## The Guide to Using Gender Neutral Pronouns
Language is an important tool in promoting inclusivity, and gender neutral pronouns play a crucial role in cultivating a more accepting and respectful society. In this guide, we will explore gender neutral pronouns, their usage, and considerations to keep in mind when using them.
### Gender Neutral Pronouns List
Before we delve into the usage of gender neutral pronouns, let’s familiarize ourselves with the most common ones:
It is important to note that while the pronouns “he” and “she” are typically associated with binary genders, some nonbinary individuals may still use them. When in doubt, it is always best to refer to someone by their name.
### How to Use Gender Neutral Pronouns
In English, it is common to default to using “he” as a generic pronoun. However, this is exclusionary and can be hurtful to transgender, nonbinary, and gender queer individuals. Using gender neutral language ensures that our sentences are inclusive and respectful.
The pronoun “they” is one of the most commonly used gender neutral pronouns and can easily be incorporated into our daily conversations. Here are some examples of how to use it:
– “I spoke to the marketing director, and they said they’d get back to me.”
– “I think someone left their laptop behind.”
– “Who’s in charge of that campaign? I’ll email them.”
Now, let’s explore some examples of how to use other gender neutral pronouns in conversation:
– “Where did ze go?”
– “This pencil belongs to hir.”
– “Ze would rather do it hirself.”
– “I think xe is nice.”
– “Tell xem I say hello.”
– “That sandwich is xirs.”
– “I think ver is nice.”
– “I borrowed vis pencil.”
– “I went to the store with vir.”
– “Te went to the store.”
– “I borrowed it from tem.”
– “That’s ter dog.”
– “Ey wrote me a note.”
– “That belongs to em.”
– “I asked to borrow eir pencil.”
### Gender Neutral Pronoun Considerations
1. How to Learn Someone’s Pronouns
When meeting someone for the first time, it is best not to assume their pronouns. Instead, introduce yourself with your pronouns to create a safe space for them to share theirs. For example, you can say, “Hi, I’m Caroline, and my pronouns are she/her.” If someone feels comfortable, they can then share their pronouns.
If you do ask for someone’s pronouns, be respectful and considerate. In a work setting, you can suggest going around and sharing names and pronouns. In a one-on-one conversation, you can introduce yourself and share your pronouns first or simply ask, “What are your pronouns?” or “Can you remind me of your pronouns?”
Remember, it is also helpful to include your pronouns in email signatures, social media profiles, or professional pages.
2. Aim to Shy Away From Saying “Preferred Pronouns”
Using the term “preferred pronouns” can be alienating, as it can imply that someone’s gender is a preference. Instead of using this term, opt for more inclusive phrases such as:
– “What are your pronouns?”
– “How would you like me to refer to you?”
– “How would you like to be addressed?”
3. What if Someone Uses Multiple Pronouns?
Some individuals may use multiple pronouns, such as she/they or they/hirs. In these cases, it is essential to listen to their preferences. They might specify which pronoun they prefer or ask you to vary the pronouns you use in conversation. Remember that it is similar to using different pronouns when referring to someone’s past experiences or different aspects of their identity.
4. How to Use Gender Neutral Pronouns with Titles and Honorifics
Honorifics, such as Mr., Mrs., or Sir, are often used to describe someone’s position in professional settings. There are also gender neutral variations of these honorifics that individuals may use, such as Mx. (the most common gender neutral honorific), Pr. (derived from person), Msr. (a mix of miss and sir), or Misc. (miscellaneous). However, it is important to respect an individual’s preference and follow their lead. If they share a gender neutral honorific, use it. If they don’t, simply avoid using an honorific altogether.
5. Should I Correct Others Who Make a Pronoun Mistake?
Whether or not to correct others who make a pronoun mistake depends on the individual. Some individuals may appreciate the correction, while others may not want to draw attention to the mistake. If you have a closer relationship with the person who was misgendered, you can ask them directly how they would like you to handle such situations. Alternatively, you can politely say, “[Person’s name] uses [pronoun],” and then continue the conversation. If you are unsure of someone’s preference but still want to show support, ensure that you use the correct pronoun when talking about them.
6. You Don’t Have to Ask Everyone for Their Pronouns
In certain situations, such as brief encounters with individuals like service staff at restaurants, there may be no need to ask for pronouns. In such cases, defaulting to calling someone by their name is considered a best practice. The key is to discern when it is necessary to know someone’s pronouns and when it is not.
7. Be Open to Continuous Learning
It is essential to remember that everyone makes mistakes, and learning to use gender neutral pronouns is an ongoing process. If you slip up and use the wrong pronoun, acknowledge your mistake immediately, apologize, and move on. Avoid dwelling on the mistake or expressing difficulty in remembering pronouns, as this may make someone feel like a burden. Embrace the opportunity to learn, grow, and create a more inclusive environment for everyone.
In conclusion, using gender neutral pronouns is a positive step towards inclusivity and acceptance. By familiarizing ourselves with these pronouns and incorporating them into our daily conversations, we can create a more respectful and affirming society for all individuals, regardless of gender identity.