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Why Pronouns Don’t Always Equate to Gender

pronouns
Pronouns do not equal gender, so you can choose whichever pronouns feel best for your identity.

Some people think that specific pronouns equate to certain genders. However, this may not always be the case. For example, according to Zoe Stoller’s Instagram post, pronouns don’t equal gender.

For example, some common misconceptions are that these pronouns apply to the following genders:

However, gendered language and gender is societal construct. In other words, it is created by society and taught and believed to be an absolute truth.

In reality, the absolute truth can be quite different. For example, the truth is that pronouns don’t inherently contain gender. For instance, she/her pronouns have been associated with women because our society and culture had created this association. Since these meanings are constructed, we as a society have the power to form our own associations outside of societal norms.

All in all, people can use the pronouns that suit them best in their understanding of self, no matter what their gender is. In addition, it is essential to note that anyone of any gender can use whatever pronouns they desire.

In summary, pronouns do not equal gender, so you can choose whichever pronouns feel best for your identity.

What Are Personal Pronouns, and Why Do They Matter?

As previously mentioned, the personal pronoun(s) someone uses do not necessarily indicate their gender. To put it another way, if a person uses she/her pronouns, they may not identify as a cis woman. They could be transgender, non-binary, or another gender-diverse identity. Therefore, it is essential to have awareness and to not associate a person’s pronouns with their gender.

According to Merriam-Webster, the full definition of pronoun is:

plural pronouns any of a small set of words (such as Isheheyouitwe, or they) in a language that are used as substitutes for nouns or noun phrases and whose referents are named or understood in the context

pronouns plural the third person personal pronouns (such as he/himshe/her, and they/them) that a person goes byWhat are your pronouns?”I’m Jo, my pronouns are she/her.” “I’m Jade, my pronouns are they/them.”… many people with nonbinary genders use “they” and “their” pronouns, although language and gender expression vary widely.— Lucy Brisbane”

As a result, pronouns do not identify the gender but are associated with the person.

In essence, a pronoun takes the place of the person’s identity. Identity expands beyond gender and is simply a placeholder to quickly reference a person.

Why Pronouns Are Not “Preferred”

In the past, many people did not ask others about their gender pronouns and would assume their gender. Many times, people had endured being misgendered. However, society is becoming more aware of people’s pronouns. They will ask someone about their “preferred pronouns,” and while this can be well-meaning, it is best not to use the word “preferred.” Think about it: the term prefer is defined as to like better or best; tend to choose. Essentially, “preferred gender pronouns” give the impression that other pronouns are acceptable than those said. However, in most cases, gender pronouns are not preferred but necessary. In addition, the word ‘preferred’ implies that someone’s pronouns are simply a preference and that you can negotiate on whether or not you use them. However, you can’t negotiate pronouns – they are an essential aspect of a person’s identity and should always be respected.

Think about your own pronouns. They are likely not just a preference. If you don’t want to be called by the wrong pronoun, others deserve the same courtesy.

How to Approach People Regarding their Pronouns

When you are unsure about someone’s pronouns, the best practice is to ask them. If you are unsure how to go about doing so, you can ask, “is there a pronoun I should use to refer to you?” This question is an acceptable way to approach someone’s pronouns. However, always be conscious of body language or the person’s tone, and if they are uncomfortable, it’s best to let them take the lead.

In Summary

Now that you know some of the basics about pronouns and how they don’t necessarily equate to gender, you can make fewer assumptions about other people’s gender and respect their identities. Be sure to ask someone about their pronouns and don’t assume that they are a particular gender just from their pronouns.

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Billie Olsen

AUTHOR: Billie Olsen

Billie Olsen (she/they) is a lifestyle writer, disability justice advocate, and cozy femme located in Kelowna, BC, Canada. Their works have appeared in Metro News, Discorder, Sophomore Magazine, the Post-Feminist Post, DINE Magazine, and NerdReader.

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