8 Affirmations from Trans Folks for Students Struggling with Pronouns
Trans, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming students, this is a moment for you. This is a moment to remind you that your pronouns are valid. This is also a moment to acknowledge the anxiety and stress that you might experience if you’re sharing pronouns (for the first or fiftieth time) or being misgendered. You are not alone.
Your gender self-determination is work. You existing as your beautiful self is work. As we work towards manifesting a world where folks can self-identify their gender freely and without anxiety, these affirmations are here to remind you that you have a right to feel at home with yourself.
1. Marcus (They/Them/Theirs, He/Him/His)
Cis people can be called whatever they want with little to no complaint – you deserve the same. It’s actually quite easy to use correct pronouns, and if people see it as a burden then they are not being respectful or compassionate enough. Your pronouns are a necessity, not a choice you are "burdening" others with.
2. Ezra (He/Him/His, Ey/Em/Eirs)
To be honest, it's still something I struggle with on the daily, but when you find the right person who puts the effort into using your correct pronouns and begins correcting other people, in my experience, people start to catch on. There's also this cool game that I like to have people play, which can help.
3. Nate (He/Him/His)
Never feel guilty correcting people. Email your teachers as much as you need, and ask your friends and allies to correct people for you, especially if it's an authority figure. There’s strength in numbers, and you don’t have to do it all by yourself.
4. Ose (They/Them/Theirs)
You know yourself better than anyone else. No one is entitled to (nor do they need) any more explanation than you’re willing to provide. Do and say however much or little you’re comfortable with.
5. James (He/Him/His)
It's reasonable to feel a lot of stress and anxiety about pronouns, and you're not alone in that. Sometimes the answer to a situation is not as straightforward as you may think. Never correct a person if you don't feel comfortable, and make sure you have some allies around you that can help. Sometimes correcting people takes too much energy and causes too much stress, and it's valid to recognize that and step back. Do what makes sense to you! There's no one size fits all.
6. Cruz (Ze/Zir/Zirs)
There’s always the fear of unacceptance and confusion, but your pronouns are a right that can never be taken away. It is very anxiety-inducing to say, “Actually, my pronouns are… and it is appreciated that you use them.” But you have every right to say it.
As someone who identifies as agender, I want to validate that there are more pronouns besides she/her/hers, he/him/his, and even they/them/theirs. You are who you are, and no one can take who you are away from you. I’ve learned over time that we are valid no matter what, even if we find our pronouns having to be corrected.
7. Niles (They/Them/Theirs)
You are not required to correct people whenever they mess up your pronouns; it isn’t your job to teach people how to treat you with respect. But you absolutely have the right to correct people in any way that feels comfortable to you; your comfort and identity are more important than making your correction overly kind or palatable to others. If you can’t correct someone when they use your pronouns incorrectly, that’s okay. If you correct people every time they mess up, gently or not, that’s okay, too. You are valid regardless. No one can take that away, no matter how hard they try.
And to trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming educators, we see you too. Here are words from Milo (They/Them/Theirs):
“As a teacher who uses they/them/their pronouns at work, I experience pronoun anxiety every day. However, I believe that school communities can work together to create more affirming environments for trans and gender-nonconforming teachers and students. To the teachers and administrators out there, we all know that building positive relationships with students is essential for a productive and engaged classroom. Proactively creating a school environment where students (and teachers) feel comfortable sharing their pronouns is a fundamental part of building relationships with trans and gender-nonconforming students. You don’t have to understand their identities to respect their pronouns. If it’s difficult or confusing for you, do your research and practice! That’s what being a lead learner is all about.”
As you continue your journey, sharing GLSEN’s pronoun resource might be helpful – plus GLSEN’s wealth of resources for supporting trans students.