Personal pronouns are important because they are frequently used to assign gender based on certain assumptions.  However, these assumptions aren’t always correct.  Using an individual’s correct pronoun is important because it conveys respect.  Most people are accustomed to using she, him, her, he, his, and hers.  People may not be as familiar with using they/them, xe/xem, sie/hir and ze/zir which may be used by individuals who identify as non-binary or gender neutral.  There are numerous other gender neutral pronouns but for our purposes we will touch on those more commonly used.

Undoubtedly, you’ve seen the inclusion of pronouns everywhere from name tags to email signatures.  Companies like General Motors, Target, and T-Mobile are supporting the use of pronouns to embrace inclusion and prevent misgendering.  Based on feedback from T-Mobile employees, the company now offers its employees the option to add any of the following to a name tag :

  • He/him/his
  • She/her/hers
  • They/them/theirs
  • Ask me my pronouns

Also, a new introduction is being ushered in with the evolution of diversity and inclusion which includes an individual’s pronouns.  Face-to-face introductions are evolving as well.  Introductions such as “Hello my name is Sam and my pronouns are she, her, hers”  are replacing the customary “Hello my name is Sam.”

A few tips for navigating personal pronoun usage:

  • Sharing your personal pronouns first is a great lead in when asking another their pronouns
  • If you’re unable to ask someone their pronouns, simply use their name or default to they/them
  • If you make a mistake, correct it and apologize
  • Keep in mind no one should be forced to share their pronouns but rather invited or encouraged to share

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