Asking for Someone’s Pronouns
While it can seem a little daunting sometimes to ask someone about their pronouns, it can be helpful to lead with your own pronouns when introducing yourself to another; this helps create an environment in which others may feel more comfortable to share their pronouns.
WHAT TO DO
If it feels like an inappropriate time to ask, like a busy social setting, it may be helpful to ask them privately.
If you’re unsure, try using ‘they/them’ pronouns.
It may also be helpful to listen to how others refer to someone, but keep in mind that it may not always be correct, and asking someone directly will decrease any confusion.
It is very important to remember above all never to assume someone’s pronouns! Pronouns do not equal gender or sex, and cannot be assumed by appearance.
USING THE WRONG PRONOUNS
There is no doubt that once in a while you may use the wrong pronouns for someone. This is okay! It’s important to make sure you correct yourself. A long apology isn’t needed, as it can bring added attention to the person in question, and is often best to quickly apologise, correct yourself, and continue. Mistakes are inevitable when incorporating anything into daily dialogue, but only takes practice; correcting yourself is key to learning.
And finally it is important to incorporate more gender neutral terms into vocabulary. Things like ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ can easily be replaced with ‘everyone, folks, y’all, etc.’ Saying humankind instead of mankind, councilperson rather than councilman/woman, and more!
Using inclusive language creates a safer environment for everyone. While it may seem like a big change sometimes, it really is something that can be easily incorporated into everyday discussions.
By Emma Assad and Bethel Eshetu