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What are pronouns and why are they important?

Pronouns are linguistic tools that we use to refer to people. (i.e. they/them/theirs, she/her/hers, he/him/his). It is important to give the opportunity for people to state the pronoun that is correct to use when referring to them. Often times, people make assumptions about the gender of a person based on person's appearance and/or name. This can be very harmful in stating that people have to look a certain way to demonstrate the gender that they are or are not. Using personal pronouns is a way to respect others and create an inclusive space just as using a person's name can be a way to respect them. 

(This is NOT an exhaustive list)

Subjective Possessive Adjective Objective Possessive Pronoun Reflexive
he him his  his himself
she her her hers herself


their theirs themself
xie hir ("here") hir hirs hirself
yo yo yos yos yoself
ze zir zir zirs zirself
ve vis ver ver verself
co co cos cos coself
en en ens ens enself
ey em eir eirs emself

Using pronouns other than the ones a person has asked you to use can make them feel unwelcome, invisible, or unsafe in the community. This is called misgendering someone. Sometimes a person's pronouns will change without a change in gender identity or expression. If you make a mistake, quickly correct yourself and apologize. Do not make a big deal out of it for it is not necessarily helpful and could be harmful.

Example: They reminded themself to pick up their umbrella before going outside. 

How you could ask: "I use they/them/their pronouns, how about you?" "Hi, my name is Akeem, and I go by he/him pronouns. How should I refer to you?"

How you could share: "I'm Nancy and my pronouns are she and her" "Leo, I prefer they and them, but he is fine too." "My name is Jade, I use she/her pronouns."

Ways to make lanugage more inclusive:

"Hello, everyone" or "How are y'all doing today?" in a group setting instead of "Hey, guys!" or "Hey ladies" or "How are you guys doing?"

"They are a first year" when referring to a student instead of "they are a freshman". 

If you are unsure of somoene's pronouns, you can use their name in place of any pronoun: "Sam was feeling hungry, so Sam went to WCG for a snack."

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