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5 Ways To Help Normalize Preferred Pronouns

Pronouns are substitutes for nouns such as names. For example, instead of saying “Abby,” you might refer to me as “she.” Some common pronouns that people may prefer to be referred to with are she/her/hers, he/him/his, or they/them/theirs. Another common preference is to not be referred to as any pronouns at all, but just simply be referred to as one’s name.

Pronouns may seem simple and harmless, but when the wrong pronoun is used to describe someone they can be deeply hurtful because pronouns in the English language (and many other languages) are gendered. This is where preferred pronouns enter the conversation. Preferred pronouns are usually used in the discussion of trans and non-binary identities because calling someone by their preferred pronouns can help to reinforce their gender identity. We are just trying to make everyone feel comfortable in their own skin.

But preferred pronouns aren’t just relevant for trans and non-binary folks. Everyone has a preferred set of pronouns they would like to be called, whether they realize it or not. Sometimes, cisgender people may think their preferred pronouns are obvious, so it is not something that stands at the forefront of their gender identity. However, cisgender people can be allies to their trans and non-binary friends by helping to normalize preferred pronouns. The best way to do this is to simply advertise your own preferred pronouns as a cis-person. 

Here are five examples of how you can help to normalize preferred pronouns:

Put your pronouns in your social media bios. 

This method of normalizing preferred pronouns is probably the easiest and it is most likely to reach the greatest number of people. When someone follows you or stalks your profile, they will immediately see your preferred pronouns and they might begin to think about preferred pronouns and their importance. They also just might be more understanding of preferred pronouns in the bios of trans and non-binary folks. 

When introducing yourself, include your pronouns. 

Meeting new people is the best time to establish what your preferred pronouns are. It is as simple as saying “hi, my name is Abby and I use she/her pronouns.” This can be used in one-on-one contexts, in group settings, and even in classroom settings. If you are with someone who is not cisgender, you can help make them feel more comfortable about sharing their preferred pronouns if you share your own. 

Put your pronouns in your email signature. 

Your email signature is important because it is most often seen in a professional setting. Professional settings are some of the most important places to be allies for trans and non-binary folks because of work-place discrimination that is often legalized. By putting your pronouns in your email signature, you are normalizing preferred pronouns for your employer or professional contacts which may change the way they think about preferred pronouns and help them be more accepting. 

Put your pronouns in your online dating profile.

Dating apps, especially tinder, are not very trans and non-binary friendly. They usually assume that everyone using their apps are cisgender or that they identify as simply “woman” or “man.” Trans and non-binary people who use dating apps often can’t express their gender identity in the genders provided by dating apps, so they often put their pronouns in their bios to express their gender identity. Cisgender people can help normalize this by also including their pronouns in their bios. Not only will you show trans and non-binary folks you may come across on dating apps that you are an ally, but you will show everyone else that using preferred pronouns is normal and accepted. 

Share an informational link to your preferred pronouns. 

Sharing your preferred pronouns is a great first step, but it doesn’t tell the whole story about pronouns. If you want to go one step further, share an educational link about your pronouns or about other pronouns.

Here are some links to share: She/Her/HersThey/Them/TheirsHe/Him/His 

Also, consider sharing a video of trans and non-binary people discussing pronouns (like the ones I have included in this article) or retweeting trans and non-binary activists on twitter. 

Helping to normalize preferred pronouns is just the first step of being an ally to trans and non-binary people. To truly be an ally, everyone must actively consider and listen to trans and non-binary voices and continuously advocate for their rights and causes. Check out this resource for more ways to be an active ally for trans and non-binary folks. 

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Abby Henry, the President of Her Campus at American, uses she/her pronouns. She is a junior at American University studying Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and Sociology. Her hometown is Canton, Ohio and she previously attended Syracuse University in New York. Her passions include but are not limited to transnational feminism, vegan chicken nuggets, and queer reproductive justice.