How to make everyone more comfortable when it comes to pronouns

·2 min read

Pride P.E.I. is offering a workshop on pronoun etiquette this month, aimed at people who work with the public.

The goal is to provide people in customer service and in the public sector with tips on how not to make mistakes about the pronouns they are using, and what to do if they make a mistake.

"Hopefully, just help people who work with the public on an everyday basis to have a deeper understanding. For people who are interested in learning about how to create a more inclusive workspace, this is kind of a go-to place for them to ask questions," said Hal Atwood, communications director for Pride P.E.I.

"For me, the biggest mistake I see people make, and I've even made this myself, is the idea of making an assumption about what someone's pronouns are based on what they appear to me as."

Atwood, who personally is comfortable with both he and they as a pronoun, said it is always better to ask than to guess. One way to do this is to include your own pronouns as part of your introduction.

But if you do make a mistake, don't make a big deal out of it. Make a sincere apology and move on.

"The bigger deal you make out of the situation the more uncomfortable it is for everyone," he said.

Misgendering can make people feel invalidated in who they believe they are, said Atwood. If the Island is to be a welcoming place, proper pronoun etiquette needs to be part of that.

Details on the workshop and registration will be on the Pride P.E.I. website by the end of this week. It will be the first in a series that will include services and opportunities for LGBTQ newcomers and services and opportunities for the parents of LGBTQ children.

More from CBC P.E.I.