Against the backdrop of a global pandemic and a massive economic crisis, it’s likely you have a lot on your plate. But as we celebrate Pride Month, I’m here to ask you to care about one more thing: putting your pronouns in your social media bio and email signatures. The purpose of revealing pronouns is to let others know how they can address you. She/her, he/they, they/them, or any other combinations are usually used to let people know what they are most comfortable with. This practice began when trans people started adding the pronouns they identified with to their profiles to avoid getting misgendered.
However, this also made them an easy target for bigotry and transphobic attacks. A Carrd created by a trans man revealed that the community started asking more cisgendered people to put their pronouns in bio to be better allies and reduce the harassment they receive because their profiles would no longer stand out.
This practice has started gaining so much traction that Instagram added a dedicated space in user profiles that allows people to share their pronouns. LinkedIn too has joined the bandwagon and now allows you to add your pronouns and display them next to your name. Many universities and organizations also ask people to add their pronouns to their email signatures. Even on video conferencing platforms like Zoom, some add their pronouns next to their name for easy identification.
If you’re wondering why you should take this step, here are some reasons:
Firstly, it normalizes discussions about gender that makes for a safer environment for all. More importantly, trans people with their pronouns in bio are less likely to be targeted if this practice becomes the norm and more people start putting it into practice. It also acts as a reminder to not assume people's gender based on any conventional factors.
Additionally, it indicates that you’re an inclusive ally who respects people’s preferences and will not misgender them. Trans and gender-nonconforming people can better understand that you’re a safe person to interact with or come out to if needed.
Due to the risk of discrimination, many trans and gender-nonconforming people may not feel like opening up about their gender identity in public spaces like workplaces. But being misgendered can have a direct negative impact on their mental health and well-being, affecting their self-esteem and confidence. By making this small change, you’re making an important move towards embracing gender diversity and creating an environment where everyone feels like displaying an authentic version of themselves.
Genders are not directly tied to pronouns either, they are a matter of preference and comfort. Not all non-binary people use they/them pronouns, some also use she/they or he/they as well. Others may use gender-neutral neopronouns like xe/xyr or ze/zyr which are growing in popularity too.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)