In honor of Pride Month, we are highlighting a few ways to educate ourselves to be better allies for the LGBTQIA+ community. Allyship is a journey and we encourage everyone to learn, grow, and adapt so that we create a society where everyone feels welcome.
One of the ways we can ensure that we are creating an inclusive work environment starts with the way we speak. Here’s what we’ve learned about pronouns and why they matter.
What are pronouns?
Pronouns are used in place of proper nouns. Most frequently, they are used in substitute of a person’s name.
Why are they important?
We have been taught to make quick assumptions about what pronouns to use for someone based on their appearance or name. We often say “he” or “she” because it is simple, fast, and effortless. For individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community and beyond, misused pronouns can cause feelings of anxiety and discomfort. A recent study suggested using the correct pronouns reduced depression and suicidal risks amongst transgender youth. An individual’s gender expression (i.e. how they dress or carry themself in the world) is not always aligned with their gender identity (i.e. whether they identify as male, female, nonbinary, or somewhere else along the gender spectrum). How we address our peers is important. Using the correct pronouns can be a simple way to make sure everyone feels comfortable.
How do I use them?
Don’t assume someone’s pronoun or gender simply by looking at them. The best way to know someone’s pronouns is to simply ask and make an effort to use them properly. Mistakes happen. If you misuse someone’s pronouns, apologize and correct yourself. Make sure you let the person know you want to be supportive and get it right. Also, if you identify as a cisgendered person, try and make it a practice to introduce yourself with your preferred pronouns, giving other people the opportunity to share theirs. Another good place to start is in your email signature. Bringing your preferred pronouns into the workplace is an easy way to create an inclusive environment for all.
If you’re looking to strengthen your understanding of gender identity, expression, or pronoun use, or are looking to learn more about the LGBTQIA+ community, we’ve listed a few places to start. This is not an exhaustive list, and we encourage you to find organizations to support that are meaningful to you.