Today marks International Pronouns Day, and here at Queen Mary Students’ Union we wholeheartedly appreciate the importance of pronouns in making people feel welcome, included, and valued.
Everyone uses pronouns in their everyday life but might not remember that they are called pronouns. These are words that refer to people, such as he/him, she/her, they/them. People will have pronouns that they prefer based on their gender identity, and it is important to respect and use them correctly.
When using pronouns, you can be more inclusive by:
- Introducing yourself with your own pronouns (“Hi, I’m Jack, my pronouns are he/him”) – this is important even if you think your pronouns are obvious, as it helps to create an environment where talking about pronouns is normal and comfortable for everyone
- Asking people their pronouns when you meet them (“My pronouns are he/him, what are yours?” or “What pronouns would you like me to use?”) – it’s important not to assume people’s pronouns if you don’t know, as assuming based on appearances relies on stereotypes around gender expression. Asking may also make others feel more comfortable to share their pronouns and again normalises discussing pronouns.
- Making a conscious effort to remember people’s pronouns and use them correctly – if you keep forgetting, make sure that you practice!
- Apologising and correcting yourself if you get it wrong (“She said th- oh, I’m sorry, they said”) – but it’s also important not to make the apology all about yourself (“Oh my gosh I feel absolutely terrible I’m so sorry I’m such an awful person”). Apologise and move the conversation on.
- Using gender-neutral pronouns such as they/them if talking about a person whose pronouns you don’t know (“I’m not sure who they are, but I have a meeting planned with them next week”)
- Wearing a pronoun badge on your lanyard (you can get these from the Students’ Union receptions) and including your pronouns in your email signature and social media profiles
To learn more about pronouns take a look at MyPronouns for more information, or if you want to chat about it contact one of the relevant Executive Officers (Jack, Vice President Welfare, at email@example.com) (Tiana, Vice President Communities, at firstname.lastname@example.org).
The most important thing with all of this is to treat everyone with respect and refer to them how they want to be referred to. A small effort can go a long way to making people feel welcome and respected!
Look after yourselves and each other,
Vice President Welfare
Vice President Communities