It has become more common in recent years to see pronouns being used in email signatures, online meetings or webinars, and social media profiles.
Gender pronouns aren’t new though. We use them all the time to identify and refer to someone, e.g. he/him/his and she/her/hers. What some people may not know is there are many valid gender-neutral pronouns that are becoming increasingly common. This includes the use of the singular ‘they’ or ‘ze’.
If you are less familiar with the LGBTQ+ community, or if you don't have to think about your gender regularly, this may be unusual to see and could initially be a little confusing and/or difficult to relate to.
When a person shares their pronouns, they are naming the pronouns that they want to be referred to by. As the non-binary community has become more visible, more people are becoming aware of non-gendered pronouns such as they/them/theirs. Unfortunately, trans and non-binary people are often mis-gendered – and at times deliberately.
Adding pronouns to email signatures, social media profiles and stating them at the start of meetings is a simple step cisgender people can take to enable those from the non-binary and transgender communities to feel more seen and recognised. It helps to:
A cisgender person is someone whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth, e.g. someone who identifies as a man and was identified as male when he was born.
So why do staff use pronouns in their signatures? It not only shows support for transgender and non-binary friends and acceptance of all genders, but to hopefully ease the burden on our trans and non-binary colleagues and acquaintances from having the same conversations again and again. It helps to minimise the chance of anyone being misgendered or ‘outed’, with no risk or burden whatsoever to the cisgender community.
Such a simple act can lead the way to normalising pronouns and by doing this hopefully make the world a more accepting and inclusive place for all.
To find more information about what personal pronouns are and why they matter, visit Stonewall.