We use pronouns in our every day language, specifically when speaking about someone in the third person. A pronoun is usually inferring someones gender – which might seem obvious, however it is important to remember that people can choose their own pronouns, and mistaking someones gender can be hurtful and insensitive.
Non-binary activist, Sam Brinton, explains how he will always introduce himself with his pronouns before saying his job or anything else, so that people understand who he is first off.
“When someone uses ‘they’ and ‘them’ as my pronouns, I feel like that person is listening to me, that person cares about me, and that person wants to have a conversation with me.”
In order to not offend someone when using pronouns, it is ok to simply to ask – ‘what are your pronouns?’. You might think it sounds intrusive, but really it is making sure that you don’t assume straight away what their gender is and therefore you can respect their feelings.
Brinton puts forward the idea that when starting a new school or job, you could have a sticker introducing yourself with your name and your pronouns, as a reminder.
In September 2019, the US dictionary added a new definition of ‘they’ – a non-binary pronoun. Merriam-Webster have named it the word of the year.
The influence of celebrities starting to share their pronouns has helped others come to terms with using them correctly, for example, Sam Smith – a popular singer and song writer who recently came out as non-binary – took to Instagram to share his new pronouns ‘they’ and ‘them’.