Join us in celebrating International Pronouns Day.

Pronouns: A How-To

Pronouns are used to refer to a person you are talking about without needing to call them by a specific name or title.  While we see a lot of the 'he' and 'she' pronouns-there are a variety of other pronouns available for folks. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do these pronouns matter?

You cannot be certain of another person's pronouns without outright asking them.  Asking instead of simply assuming pronouns is a basic way to indicate that you acknowledge and respect this person and their identity.

Using the incorrect pronouns for a person not only can indicate disrespect and invalidate their identity but also can foster feelings of depression and dysphoria and even lead to violence against this person.

What do I do if I mess up?

First, acknowledge that you are going to make mistakes.  Everyone does. How you handle this situation, however, can make a big difference.

Apologize and correct yourself quickly without making a big deal out of it.  Remember this isn't about you, regardless of how bad you may feel, so things like overemphasizing your apology/correction sound patronizing.  Likewise, though revamping our language is tough, this is not the time to express how hard this is for you.  

After this, follow the lead of your friend.  They may be content with just the apology.  Other times they may want to talk to you about this further.  Respect their wishes.

Finally, remember the best reaction is in prevention.  Sometimes when you are alone try practicing your friend's pronouns or find other friends who are out to help you practice and keep you accountable. 

If someone tells me their pronouns I can use them anywhere/all the time, right?

This is a tricky one.  While you never want to use incorrect pronouns to refer to your friends, it's also important to remember that they may not be out in every situation.  Thus, using the correct pronouns may unintentionally out them.  The best option is to check in with your friend about how they wish to be referred to in any given situation and follow their lead.

I heard that some people use "they."  Isn't that used for multiple people?

They has historically been used to refer to multiple people, yes, but it has also been used as a singular pronoun dating all the way back to the 1400s.  What's more, you've probably used they as a singular pronoun at some point in your life, like when you see a friend on the phone and later ask who it was and what they wanted.  

Commonly Used Pronouns

Pronoun card Side 2

Pronoun Card

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Pronoun Dressing Room

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