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The dawn of the twenty-first century brought with it a rise in general awareness about oneself. Safe spaces started popping up in both offline and online worlds. Individuals today feel free to explore their sexual and gender identities here. One’s gender is a key area in their identity. As they grow up, a lot of people come to realize that they don’t feel comfortable with the gender assigned to them at birth. So, they embrace the gender they feel belongs to them, or in that case a lack of gender itself. Using non-gendered pronouns, neo pronouns, or switching to pronouns that have traditionally belonged to a different gender is a way for transgender and nonbinary people to assert their own existence. Choosing their own pronouns is often their way of saying: “This! This is who I am. This is who I’ve always been, and now I’m brave enough to accept that.”

Pride month has brought back this notorious discourse surrounding pronouns like each year. English purists tend to gatekeep for the stubborn reasons of grammatical accuracy. It’s a whole other story with transphobes and generally hateful people of all sorts. The usage of gender-non-conforming pronouns is a subject that shouldn’t be debatable in the first place. Yet, it is. It is considered common courtesy to use the singular ‘they’ instead of ‘he/she’ pronouns on default in online spaces occupied by the youth. This helps promote inclusivity. Misgendering someone (referring to them by using pronouns that they do not use) can have long-lasting effects on a person’s mental health. The feeling of dysphoria spikes exponentially and causes people great distress. Though this can be either intentional or unintentional, one needs to be mindful so as to not hurt the feelings of people living their lives in peace.

A lot of people can’t afford (both literally and figuratively) to be freely ‘out’ in their public life. Safety precedes comfort. And thus, they continue to suffer mental disdain at the hands of the ones they love. In an ideal world, the scenario would be different. People would be accepting and loving. People wouldn’t harm their peers due to them not fitting societal constructs. Instead, there would be no societal constructs in the first place. But the world we live in is far from ideal. It is as flawed as flawed could be and is in desperate need of moral growth and improvement. It’ll take effort, it’ll take educating but we can get there. All we need to do is keep our eyes and ears open, listen to trans voices and amplify them. We need to make sure what they say is heard and implemented. We need to ensure that society progresses towards acceptance, one day at a time. The least we can do is respect them. They matter, and so do their pronouns.

Vrinda Kohli is an eighteen years old Computer Science Engineering student at Manipal University Jaipur. She likes to binge read in her scarce spare time.
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