Language (much like sexuality!) is fluid, constantly evolving, and sometimes confusing. Using alternative or non-binary pronouns might be challenging at first, but before you tell a loved one that using their preferred pronouns is “too hard,” remember that what they will hear is that the work of being a good friend/lover/coworker/parents/etc. and supporting their identity is too much work. Respecting someone’s preferred pronouns can go a long way to making that person feel recognized, respected, and comfortable! Plus, it’s just good manners!
Here are some super easy tips for understanding and using non-binary or Genderqueer pronouns!
You can’t tell a person’s gender identity or their preferred pronouns based on how they look. The only real way to know what someone’s preferred pronouns are is to ask!
When it’s appropriate, ask people’s preferred pronouns (not just people who you think might be trans or non-binary). If you ask someone’s name, or where they’re from, consider also asking what they’d like you to use!
Try Your Best
Even if it’s uncomfortable or awkward at first, and even if using they/them challenges everything you learned about grammar in elementary school, push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Practice Makes Perfect
Habits build over time, and your friends will appreciate you putting in the work!
Look. Everyone makes mistakes. If you slip up and misgender someone or forget, it’s not the end of the world. Just apologize, and fix your language moving forward. Don’t make a big deal about it. The best apology is not making that mistake again!
When you hear someone use the wrong pronouns for a mutual friend, family member, or even a celebrity, correct them! Part of being a good ally to non-binary, genderqueer and trans folx is helping other people get them right!
Consider your preferred pronoun in your email signature, or in your bio on Insta or Twitter or in your social introductions. (As in, “Hey my name is Amber, She/Her.”) This helps to normalize the discussion and helps reinforce the idea that we shouldn’t assume someone’s pronouns based on a traditionally gendered name or how someone presents!
Use Gender-Neutral Greetings
Try to shift your language away from gendered greetings. Instead of saying “Hey guys” or “What’s up ladies,” try to switch to non-binary language, like “Hey folks,” “Hi friends,” or “How are y’all doing?”