Preferred pronouns or preferred gender pronouns or personal gender pronouns is a set of pronouns that an individual wants others to use to refer to that person’s gender identity. These pronouns are different from the pre-defined gender specific pronouns such as she/her/hers which are used for females and he/him/his for males.
Importance of Gender Pronouns
Pronouns are usually not conformed to gender identity but we tend to relate the two. However, using the correct pronoun for the respective gender symbolises respect and social equality to all and also creates an inclusive environment. It is also important to not assume a person’s gender and pronoun on the basis of their appearance and looks as gender and pronouns are not necessarily tied up together. Moreover, using a wrong pronoun can be disrespectful and offensive whereas, ignorant behaviour towards a person’s pronoun can make them feel alienated and outcasted. Knowing and using the correct gender pronoun is a positive way of supporting people with diverse backgrounds. Also, it lowers gender depression, raises self esteem and creates a level of comfort among people.
Gender Neutral Pronouns
Gender neutral pronouns don’t specify the subject as male or female in third person. We can replace the traditional binary pronouns by neutral pronouns like:-
>he/she: zie, sie, tey, ve
>him/her: zim, sie, em, ver
>his/hers: zis, hirs, vers, ters
>himself/herself: zieself, hirself, verself, terself
In addition to these, there are a few traditional neutral pronouns in which can be used in everyday conversations such as they, them, theirs, everyone etc..
Becoming gender inclusive
The most important part of becoming inclusive is to normalise gender inclusive pronouns and respecting them. The best way to normalise the process is including them in day-today life, using pronouns in email signature, adding them on your social media handles etc.
Avoiding use of gender specific terms such as Ms, Ms, Mrs, watchman, postman etc. and replacing them by their corresponding neutral pronouns like Mx, security guard, postalperson etc. to neutralise gender specifications.
Another way to be inclusive is by using gender neutral pronouns in workspace. It helps avoiding stereotypical assumptions of job roles such as he for doctors, police officers etc and she for teachers, receptionists etc..