WHAT ARE PRONOUNS?
Other than one's name, pronouns are the way that people identify and refer to us.
Pronouns are the easiest way to acknowledge someone's identity. Using a person's pronoun is a form of respect and validation. It makes us feel safe and seen and is a simple and easy way to create a safe environment for everyone.
Pronouns are not only for Trans and Gender Diverse people.
"Preferred" pronouns are not a thing. Pronouns are non negotiable and they are not a preference. Pronouns are a part of who someone is - an extension of someone's name, identity and sense of self.
Remember, if someone shares their pronoun with you it is what they want to use in that space and time, they may change their pronouns in another space in life. Check in with them to see who you can share that information with.
Someone can use multiple pronouns and can change their pronoun to reflect their identity at that point in time.
A person's name or appearance does not reflect their pronoun.
Never assume and always ask.
HOW TO ASK SOMEONE'S PRONOUNS
When introducing yourself, share your name and pronouns, this will prompt the other person to do the same.
It is okay to respectfully ask someone what pronouns they use, In fact it is more than okay, it is encouraged.
HAVING TROUBLE WITH PRONOUNS?
Practice, practice, practice.
Practice referring to someone with their pronoun.
When in doubt, use they/them pronouns.
They/them pronouns are never incorrect. If you are unsure always use they/them until told which pronouns to use.
Or, try use their name instead. For example, "George is very funny!" or "I haven't met George yet." This is a good way to avoid using the wrong pronouns or getting it wrong if you don't yet feel confident enough not to slip up too many times. But remember, once you learn someone's pronouns, it is important to use them correctly.
TIP: When you hear someone misgender another person, offer a correction. Allyship occurs even when the person is not around.
GETTING IT WRONG?
It's ok, everyone makes mistakes, as long as it was a mistake and it is not deliberate. Simply correct yourself and move on.
Do NOT go on and on about hard it is for you to get it right. It is disrespectful and makes the person who was misgendered feel like their pronoun, and essentially their identity, are hard work for you.
TIP: Saying sorry can be problematic, It makes the person who was misgendered* feel awkward and responsible for comforting you, which is absolutely not their job.
*Misgendering occurs when you refer to someone by the wrong pronoun and therefore the wrong gender identity.
HOW TO BE PROACTIVE
Event/workplace name tags.
Include your pronouns under or next to your name.
Go around the room and do a name and pronouns round, where everyone will get the chance to say their name and pronoun if they wish.
Add pronouns to your email signature and social media bio's.
First and Last name
Gender neutral options.
Offer they/them pronoun options on forms and the gender neutral title Mx. which is used by people who do not identify as male (Mr or Sir) or female (Miss, Ms or Mrs).
Note: You can view a shareable post of this guide on our Instagram - @SpeakAus