Why You Should Give Your Pronouns

    Every year, students at Gettysburg College introduce themselves to their class for the first time. While most people are used to icebreakers that include name, hometown, and a fun fact, many first years are caught off guard when asked to list their pronouns. 

    Pronouns are how people refer to you when they don’t use your name. Traditionally, females use she/her/hers pronouns while males use he/him/his. There is nothing wrong with using the pronouns assigned to you when born, but it’s important to realize that not everyone is okay with that. Just because you think your pronouns are obvious doesn't mean that everyone's are. It's common for pronouns to change when people begin identifying as a different gender. 

    People that identify as transgender or do not identify as either male or female may have preferred pronouns that other people might not be aware of. By having everyone give their pronouns during an introduction, it creates a more supportive environment for these individuals to address how they would like to be referred to as. This means that people who identify outside the gender binary do not feel pressured to correct people during individual conversations.

Image via George Harvey

    It is also important to note that pronouns are not restricted to him/his or her/hers. Using singular they/them pronouns is totally okay and some people even discover other pronouns that might fit them better! All of this is totally fine! This is the way language works; when a need for certain words arises, new words are created. Asking people to refer to you with a more unique pronoun isn’t breaking the rules of English language, it is evolving them to better suit your needs!

    Everyone should be aware that not everyone is comfortable with giving their pronouns, especially if they are not out yet. This is totally okay! The purpose of this article is to explain why giving your pronouns is generally a good thing to do, and should be done even if you are cisgender and think your pronouns are obvious. By clarifying them, you help make others feel more at ease if they want to come out to the group. 

Image via ADL

    This is the reason why orientation staff and leaders of organizations on campus ask for pronouns. It isn’t to annoy or upset anyone. It’s so that they can make everyone in the room feel comfortable and respected.