In personal life and in the workplace, you may have noticed the increasingly common conversation surrounding personal pronouns. However, you may still not understand what exactly it all means and why personal pronouns are so important. Keep reading to learn why using correct personal pronouns is a respectful, inclusive and simple choice.
Mypronouns.org explains that using someone's personal pronouns is simply another way to respect someone and create and inclusive environment, much like using a person's desired nickname:
"Just as it can be offensive or even harassing to make up a nickname for someone and call them that nickname against their will, it can be offensive or harassing to guess at someone's pronouns and refer to them using those pronouns if that is not how that person wants to be known. Or, worse, actively choosing to ignore the pronouns someone has stated that they go by could imply the oppressive notion that intersex, transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people do not or should not exist."
The bottom line: Using correct personal pronouns is about respect and acknowledging a person's identity, and is the right thing to do.
Watch the video below to hear some personal perspectives on the importance of personal pronouns and gender identity:
Now that you understand the "what" behind personal pronouns, you may still be wondering about the "how." Click here for situational examples of pronoun use and here for basic pointers about replacement language to help you avoid making gender assumptions.
Just as we'd incorporate these practices in our daily lives, we should also work to make our workplaces as inclusive and safe as possible. Consider the following steps to begin to make that a reality:
- Normalize sharing personal pronouns upon meeting someone. This could be done by saying, "Hi, my name is Jane and my pronouns are 'she/her/hers.'" Click here to learn more about asking someone else about their personal pronouns.
- Be ready to speak up. If you or someone you know is being misgendered, don't be afraid to say something. Even if the misgendered language was an accident, it's still a big deal and shouldn't be ignored.
- Allow employees the option to add their personal pronouns to their email signatures and business cards. This helps whoever they're conversing with know right off the bat the way they should be addressed.
In addition to normalizing the conversation around personal pronoun usage, Harvard Business Review offered some additional insight for creating a trans-inclusive workplace:
1. Adopt basic trans-inclusive policies. This could include bathroom access and dress codes.
2. Support gender transitions. This could include listening to and collaborating with employees about what matters most to them during their transition (which is a process, not a singular event).
3. Develop trans-specific diversity training. Article authors recommend that these trainings include contact with those who identify along the trans identity spectrum, and help cisgender employees develop the skills to become informal champions of their transgender colleagues.
Read more about using personal pronouns and why it's important by visiting mypronouns.org.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for West Michigan Woman.