If you’re familiar with the transgender community, or if you’re a part of it, you know how important being referred to by the correct pronouns (she/her, he/him, they/them, etc.) can be for a trans individual.
But for those of us who don’t know much about this yet, let’s try to understand, shall we?
• Why is it important to use the right pronouns when interacting with or referring to trans individuals?
More often than not, members of the transgender community have to overcome many struggles in order to come to terms with their own gender identities. They also face systemic discrimination or oppressive treatment, just because they do not fit into society’s preconceived notion of “gender”, or how people should act and talk.
Thus, for many trans individuals, pronouns are not just words, but rather signify an important part of who they are, the gender they identify with, and the reality of their experiences.
Referring to them with their preferred pronouns is an act of showing basic human respect, and it also recognises the significance of their struggles and experiences.
• So what should you do?
If you’re unsure about someone’s gender, there are several ways in which you can make sure that you’re referring to them by their correct pronouns. Here are a few ideas:
1. Just have a conversation! You could start by sharing your own pronouns and ask the individual about theirs. It might seem a bit awkward at first, but honestly, it’s better than making hurtful and potentially harmful assumptions about someone’s gender.
2. If talking about it seems too awkward, you can still remain respectful by simply using gender neutral pronouns such as they, them, themself, etcetera.
It is important to note that “They” is being increasingly used as a singular pronoun in regular conversations, and it’s a great gender neutral pronoun to start with.
For example: Meem’s new haircut really suits them.
You can also use ze, hir, per, zir, etc as well when you are unsure of someone’s gender.
This post was created in collaboration with TransEnd and ProjectDebi.