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Let’s Talk About Pronouns

As an ally, I often ask myself what I can do for other marginalized communities to lighten their load or at the very least, help them feel seen. And if you've been anywhere near social media in the last few months, you'll have noticed that there's been a spark of conversations surrounding pronouns; should you publicize them if you're not trans? What do they mean? Here's a newsflash-- everybody has pronouns. Pronouns are an extremely important identifier that represents an individual's identity. Within Trans and Nonbinary spaces, oftentimes, pronouns can be used as a weapon that comes in the form of intentional or unintentional misgendering, delegitimation, etc. 

Many individuals attempt to brush aside the use of an individual's preferred pronouns for their own personal comfort, using the excuse of "it's just weird", or "sorry, I'm not used to it yet". The reality of the case is that they aren't "preferred pronouns", they are "mandatory pronouns". The use of language like "preferred" indicates a sense of choice, like it's optional, however, respecting a person's identity is far from that. Your preferred pizza toppings are a choice. Your identity is not. An individual's identity is not something that can just arbitrarily be decided and if it gets messed up along the way, it can be forgotten and moved on from. Identity is a deeply complex and personal decision that is completely up to the individual to determine the terms and conditions of how it should be expressed. The effects of misgendering a person are everlasting as one person's ignorant slip-up constitutes complete delegitimization of another's existence.

    That being said, in an attempt to normalize the use of pronouns, many allies and friends of the community alike have started publicizing their pronouns in solidarity with trans and nonbinary folx. The idea is to make the conversation surrounding pronouns a more normalized one that doesn't target or "other" non-cis-gendered people. This looks like putting your pronouns in your social media, your emails, or any other place you would identify yourself. This also looks like simply asking someone what pronouns they use when you meet them so as to not misgender them. This is not difficult to ask. This is the very least an ally can do to actively support and advocate. There is no excuse. The solution to misgendering is to simply ask someone how they identify and respect it. It is not anybody's responsibility to make it easy or comfortable for you.

Jacqueline is a senior at the University of Tampa where she is studying Political Science, Philosophy, and Law. With a passion for meaningful expression and a habit of constant word scribbling, Jacqueline published her first collection of poetry, "Iota", in 2015, and her sophomore collection, "Introspective Mindswap", in 2019. Her main focal point for writing surrounds her identity as a Latinx woman of color in America, finding strength in fragility, and the perpetual itch of nostalgia. Be sure to keep up with Jacqueline on social media @jackieecrespo, any inquiries can be sent to jackieecrespo@gmail.com
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