I think before we get into that, we should define some key terms.
- Cisgender: a term used to describe individuals whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth (ex: person born with female organs who identifies as a woman)
- Transgender: a term used to describe individuals whose gender identity does not match their sex assigned at birth (ex: person born with female organs who identifies as a man)
- Agender or Non-binary: a term used to describe individuals who do not identify with a particular gender despite their sex assigned at birth (ex: person born with female organs who does not identify as a woman OR a man)
- Misgendering: intentionally or unintentionally referring to or describing a person using words or language that do not correlate with their identified gender (ex: using “he” or “him” to refer to Caitlyn Jenner)
**Know that this list is not exhaustive, but this is a good starting point if the idea of gender pronouns is new for you**
As we’ve discussed before, language is a powerful thing. The words we use to communicate and to describe the things and the people around us give meaning, set a tone, and also help us to connect with one another.
Gender today is much more complex than just male and female. Our world is made up of millions and billions of beautiful and unique individuals. It makes sense that we all don’t fit in the same two boxes. While this is true, for a long time it wasn’t seen that way. And there are still people today who refuse to accept this.
Unfortunately, many people are misgendered constantly. Since forever, we have used binaries (he/him and she/her) to reference gender; and it has been ingrained in our views of the world. Because of this, we often assume the gender of another person or even worse, use our own perception of which box they should fit instead of theirs. Correctly using a person’s pronouns shows respect. It shows that you see and value them for who they are. As a cisgender female, this is not a problem that I have ever faced. I can only imagine how disrespectful, invalidating, and embarrassing being misgendered might feel.
Okay, so I was born a man and I identify as a man. Does that mean I don’t need to share my pronouns? Good question! To that I’d say, how would I know that you identify that way if you hadn’t disclosed that to me now? I could make an assumption, but you know what happens when you assume…
That’s where the value of self-disclosing pronouns comes in. By sharing pronouns before any assumptions are made, it shows inclusivity of all genders, it saves embarrassment on either side, and it opens up a conversation. Imagine if it were commonplace for everyone to introduce themselves with their pronouns or to write their pronouns on their name tags: Hi, my name is Tish! I use she/her pronouns. What’s your name? It would eliminate awkward corrections, embarrassment on both sides, and would give space for everyone to be exactly who they want be without shame or a feeling of otherness.
So should you put your pronouns in your bios or email signature? Really, it’s up to you, but wouldn’t it be easier if we all did?