Why Is It Important To Respect Preferred Pronouns?
Maybe one of your friends has recently opened up to you and told you they are transgender or nonbinary. Perhaps a family member is in the midst of transitioning, and they have requested that people start addressing them with their preferred pronouns. Maybe your workplace is aiming to become more inclusive for transgender employees, and you’ve been encouraged to display your own pronouns in your digital communications.
Today, it’s essential to understand why using preferred pronouns is paramount to the dignity of transgender, nonbinary and gender non-conforming people. If someone in your life has just come out and told you their preferred pronouns, you might occasionally stumble in this area.
By learning a little more about the importance of preferred pronouns, you can better support the transgender, binary and gender non-conforming people in your life. Here’s why using preferred pronouns is crucial.
Simply put, addressing someone as they wish to be addressed is polite. When a person wants to be addressed with a particular set of preferred pronouns, it is because they are struggling with a sense of dysphoria in regards to their assigned gender identity.
Using someone preferred pronouns is a way of practicing basic manners in polite conversation so that they will feel comfortable.
Preferred pronouns indicate someone’s identity. Using them is a sign of respect. It demonstrates that you understand that a transgender or nonbinary person’s identity is legitimate and that their pronouns convey their sense of self.
They are telling the world who they truly are. By saying their pronouns when you talk about them or address them, you are illustrating that you understand and accept their identity. If you are not sure, it is absolutely okay to ask someone what their preferred pronoun is in an effort to be respectful and to not make any assumptions.
Transgender and gender non-conforming people often feel that society invalidates their identity. They may have dealt with loved ones who dismissed them after coming out. They might have been denied jobs or housing just because they were different.
When you use their preferred pronouns, you affirm what they know about themselves rather than invalidate their identity. Affirming someone’s identity lets them know that they can trust you. You have taken the time to understand them for who they are rather than questioning them, and they can relax when they’re around you.
Coming Out Takes Courage
Coming out as transgender or gender non-conforming is no easy feat. Transgender people face high levels of discrimination. It takes a lot of courage to live authentically. Therefore, for many transgender and non-conforming people, opening up about their gender for the first time is daunting.
Furthermore, coming out can be an ongoing process. A transgender or gender non-conforming person may have to tell new people they meet about their gender identity over and over again, mustering up that same initial courage countless times.
By using their preferred pronouns, you show respect for everything they’ve been through and acknowledge that their identity matters.
Misgendering Can Be Alienating
Finally, misgendering is a common experience amongst transgender and gender non-conforming people. Sometimes, misgendering happens accidentally. But sometimes, it happens on purpose. Both accidental and purposeful misgendering can be very hurtful.
Not only can it make people suddenly feel like they’ve been put on the spot in the worst possible way, it can also stir up very painful feelings of dysphoria. Transgender people choose to socially and physically transition in order to alleviate their dysphoria and feel truly comfortable in their own skin. The same goes for gender non-conforming people. When they are misgendered, it can trigger feelings of anxiety, depression, and even feeling physically disconnected from their own body.
Using preferred pronouns is one way to avoid this scenario.
Are you wondering how to best support a loved one who has recently come out as transgender? A therapist can help you understand it better. Reach out to us today to discuss your options for scheduling your first session.