The old languages - at least the ones I know - don't have gender. They don't have gendered pronouns. There's no "he" and "she." A human being is a human being.
Why are Pronouns Important?
Our daily communication, be it verbal or written is peppered with pronouns. We use pronouns as one of the ways to express our gender identities. The most common pronouns that we use are ‘“I,” “they,” “she,” “he,” “we,” “hers,” and variants of the same.
What are Gender-Neutral Pronouns or Gender Inclusive Pronouns?
Gender-neutral or gender inclusive pronouns are not specific to any one gender. These are useful and important to people who don’t identify with the gender they were born in. For example, someone may be born a female at birth, but may identify as a male. This person would not like to be addressed or identified with pronouns associated with the female gender, such as ‘’her” and she”.
The concept of gender has become more fluid, and is a spectrum, rather than being a binary, where one identifies as ‘’male’’ or ‘’female’’. Instead of assuming someone’s pronouns based on their perceived gender or appearance, it is important to check what their pronouns are.
Some examples of Gender-Neutral Pronouns
Pronoun: They/them/theirs: A common gender-neutral pronoun, ‘’they” was voted as the Word of the Year in 2015.
Usage: Jay completed their homework quickly, because they wanted to play.
Pronoun: Ze/hir/hir (Ze is pronounced as “zee” and can be spelled as zie or xe. It is to be used in place of she/he/they. “Hir”, pronounced as “here” is used instead of possessive pronouns her/hers/him/his/they/theirs.
Usage: Ron completed hir homework quickly, because ze wanted to play.
Using the name instead of pronoun: Some people prefer to use their names instead of pronouns.
Usage: Max completed Max’s homework quickly, because Max wanted to play.
(-modified from LGBT Resource Center)
Why Should We Share Gender Pronouns At Workplace Or Community Spaces?
If we inadvertently or purposely address someone using the wrong pronoun(misgendering), the person may feel disrespected and alienated. Most of us are privileged to live a life where people naturally associate the correct pronouns with us, but not everyone has this advantage. It is important to respect someone’s pronouns as it validates a person's identity If we choose to ignore or disrespect someone’s pronoun, we are acting unjustly toward them and creating a space where they don’t feel welcome and accepted.
Pronoun Stickers-A Tool To Make The Workplace And Community Spaces More Inclusive
In order to make community spaces more welcoming and inclusive, many schools, universities, work-places, and conferences are issuing pronoun stickers. These stickers aim to reduce misgendering and make it easier to know which pronouns to use for someone you just met, if you are not sure about their correct gender pronouns.
Where Are Pronoun Stickers Being Used?
Let us see some prominent examples
Example 1: Salesforce: Annual Dreamforce Conference
Dreamforce is an annual user conference hosted by Salesforce.com in downtown San Francisco, bringing together thought leaders, industry pioneers and thousands of IT professionals.
Equality is one of Salesforce’s core values and they strive to make all their events accessible to all, and welcome to everyone.
At Dreamforce 18, Salesforce distributed gender pronoun stickers for all attendees to wear proudly. (“He/him” and “she/her” for individuals who identify on the gender binary scale, “they/them” for individuals who identify as gender-fluid or non-binary, and an “ask me” option as well)
Example 2: Google’s Annual Developers Conference
At Google's annual developers conference i/o 2018 attendees were encouraged to wear pronoun stickers.
This received massive media coverage and social media love, with many tweeting positively in favour of the pronoun stickers.
Example 3: University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
UCSF strives to create an inclusive environment for all of its community members. On its website, it states that, ‘’It is important to offer opportunities for all members to share their gender pronouns in settings where they are asked to introduce themselves. Whether you are working with a colleague, peer, or patient – we want to allow for everyone to specifically indicate their pronouns so each individual feels safe navigating UCSF.
We encourage everyone to add a pronoun sticker to your UCSF ID badge”
Example 4: Brighton and Hove City Council
As part of a new campaign to support transgender and non-binary pupils and to prevent misgendering, pronoun stickers are being handed out at secondary schools and colleges in Brighton. The Brighton and Hove City Council is giving out stickers which include options such as “he”, “she” and “they”, as well as a blank version for students to choose how they wish to be identified.
The stickers also carry messages such as “gender is a spectrum”, “respect my pronouns, respect me” and “my pronouns matter.
Do You Want To Make Your Organization A More Inclusive Space?
Some gender inclusive practices that you can adopt are:
Ask for gender on job applications only if it is critical to the role
Encourage the addition of gender pronouns to your company’s email signatures
Encourage participants to share pronouns during introductions within group activities and meetings
At events, provide name tags/stickers with pronouns that help participants address each other correctly
If you would like to get pronoun stickers for your events, do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org