What are gender pronouns?
Simply put, gender pronouns are words that we use to refer to people. You’re probably very familiar with the gender pronouns “he” and “she.” These terms fit some people, but not everyone identifies with them. Some people use “they” as their pronoun, and others use newer words like “ze” and “hir.” Many people (young folks, especially) are also creating their own words as they explore their identities.
By being mindful of pronouns in our everyday life, each of us has the power to create a culture of inclusion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and adults alike. Wearing a pronoun button, like the ones featured in our True Inclusion Toolbox, is an easy way to make your school, work, or community a safer place for LGBTQ folks. You can order our buttons here, or (if you’re the crafty type) download our graphics to make your own!
Why do pronouns matter?
We use pronouns every single day. Referring to someone by their correct pronoun is a simple way to say, “I see you for who you are, and respect you for it.” This is especially true for transgender folks and people outside of the gender binary.
It goes beyond “feeling” safe, too. When young people are welcome and accepted for who they are, they’re more likely to succeed and less likely to experience negative outcomes like homelessness.
How do I ask someone their pronouns?
You can’t always tell what someone’s pronouns are just by looking at them. The easiest way to find out is to just ask! A good habit to get into is telling others your pronouns when you first meet. It’s a great way to break the ice and show others that they can feel safe being their true selves around you.
Talking to people about their pronouns might feel strange at first, but don’t give up! By being mindful of others’ pronouns, you’re helping to make a more inclusive culture for LGBTQ youth.
P.S. You can now get your own diversity posters, totes, mugs, stickers, and more! You can buy one here, or download the graphic to print your own for free! Proceeds support our work to end LGBTQ youth homelessness.