@mlevine10 said it all: One of the most affirming things you can do for a trans person is to use the correct pronouns. I didn’t say ‘preferred pronoun’ because it’s not a preference, like chocolate or vanilla. When a trans person tells you what their pronoun is, there is now a correct pronoun and wrong ones. Some people are fine with more than one, others move between pronouns, which just means there are more ways for you to make someone’s day. It’s completely understandable that change takes time, your trans friends and family know that, but that is no excuse not to try. And when mistakes happen, which they will (they happen to me too!), you apologize, correct yourself and work to do better. You have to take time and practice…
YOU ALREADY USE SINGULAR THEY ALL THE TIME.
“Someone left their cell phone here.”
“Whose jacket is this? They have great style.”
“Do you know who won? I want to congratulate them.”
It absolutely takes conscious effort, but nothing else to afford trans/nonbinary/gnc people basic respect and courtesy. Change the culture and normalize sharing pronouns by adding YOUR pronouns to your email signature and social media profiles. Next time you introduce yourself, share your pronouns. It makes absolutely no difference to most people, but to the one person who wasn’t sure if they were going to have to go the whole day misgendered and unseen, it makes all the difference in the world. Try using ‘they/them/their’ for one of your child’s (human or animal) stuffed animals or toys. Correct others when they misgender someone you know (always make sure your trans friend is out and wants this), whether your friend is present or not. The emotional energy (or physical risk, etc) it takes for an ally to correct someone is so much less than the energy it takes someone who has to look people in the eye and ask for basic human decency every day… I’m pledging to do better. I hope you will, too.
2015 Word of the Year is singular “they” (2015) by The American Dialect Society
Words We're Watching: Singular 'They' (2017) by Merriam-Webster
A brief history of singular ‘they’ (2018) by the Oxford English Dictionary blog
It’s OK To Use “They” To Describe One Person: Here’s Why (2019) by dictionary.com
Gender-Specific and Gender-Neutral Pronouns infographic
Ask. Respect. Practice.
A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson
Archie, a snarky genderqueer artist, is tired of people not understanding gender neutral pronouns. Tristan, a cisgender dude, is looking for an easy way to introduce gender neutral pronouns to his increasingly diverse workplace. The longtime best friends team up in this short and fun comic guide that explains what pronouns are, why they matter, and how to use them. They also include what to do if you make a mistake, and some tips-and-tricks for those who identify outside of the binary to keep themselves safe in this binary-centric world. A quick and easy resource for people who use they/them pronouns, and people who want to learn more!
What’s in a Pronoun?: Resources and Activities on Third-Person, Gender-Neutral Pronouns assembled by Dubbs Weinblatt, Essie Shachar-Hill, and Jacob Klein
On the most basic level, using people’s correct pronouns is about respect. In the same way we ask
people’s names so we can refer to them correctly, using people’s pronouns is about honoring them as a person.
Want to see how to use ze/zir, ze/hir, ey/em, ve/ver, ne/nem, xe/xem, or they/them in a sentence?
Minus18’s pronoun practice
This site is super mobile friendly and interactive.
They Is My Pronoun (TIMP)
Lee Airton provides an interactive guide to using gender-neutral pronouns and supporting people who use them. Lee answers questions, post thoughts and share a ton of helpful resources.
Created by Praxis Group, these FREE cards are for folks who are tired of being misgendered by family, friends and strangers. They’re also for cis allies who want to encourage people to not assume gender.