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Using Gender Pronouns and Gender-Inclusive Language

June 15, 2021
Pride Month is celebrated each year in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising that started on June 28th when police raided the Stonewall Inn in New York City. After the raid, the LGBTQ community, long frustrated with police brutality, led days of unrest that served as a catalyst to the broader civil rights movement that aimed to advance LGBTQ rights and liberation. Trans women of color and lesbians were integral members of the resistance, including Marsha P. Johnson, Stormé DeLarverie, Miss Major griffin-Gracy, and Sylvia Rivera.

This blog is not exhaustive. Please review the additional links we have provided below for more information.

What are pronouns?

Pronouns are any of a small set of words (such as I, she, he, you, it, we, or they) in a language used as substitutes for nouns or noun phrases and whose referents are named or understood in the context. They can also be the third person personal pronouns (such as he/him, she/her, and they/them) that a person goes by. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Most people have pronouns, and normalizing sharing pronouns is crucial to ensure that people are not misgendered and that folks who use different pronouns from the gendered pronouns (she/her or he/him) aren’t the only ones who feel they need to share.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of pronouns from Springfield College:

How can I be inclusive by using pronouns?

  • Add your pronouns to your email signature/business cards/website bios etc., if you are comfortable doing so.
  • When introducing yourself, state your pronouns (example: My name is Sanjana, and my pronouns are she/her)
  • If you don’t know someone’s pronouns, don’t assume. Ask respectfully or use they/them pronouns.
  • Some people use their name, might not have a preference, or want to avoid pronouns altogether.
  • If you use the wrong pronouns for someone, apologize and rectify your mistake in the future.
  • If you hear someone misgendering someone or using the wrong pronoun, correct the person. Doing this is a meaningful way you can be an ally.

Things to Remember:

  • Avoid saying “preferred pronouns” because pronouns someone uses are not a preference. Instead, say “the pronouns they use” or “personal pronouns.”
  • Not everyone feels comfortable sharing their pronouns. When asking people to share their pronouns or add them to their email signature, please ensure that it is voluntary and not mandatory.
  • Ensure that your language is gender-inclusive by switching from “Hey guys” to “Hey folks/everyone” or “Welcome ladies and gentlemen” to “Welcome everyone.”

Other Helpful Resources:

Written by Sanjana Vijayann, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce
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