#ShareYourPronouns FAQ Blog
By members of the 2020-2021 National Student Council
Wait… what even are pronouns?
Pronouns are the words people use to refer to you instead of your name. In English, pronouns can be gendered. Many people overlook or simply do not think about pronouns. Often, this is because they identify with the gender they were assigned at birth— this is called being cisgender, or “cis” for short. Everybody has pronouns, cis people included. Pronouns can sometimes be a signifier for someone’s gender identity but not always. We do not want to assume people’s gender identity based on expression (typically shown through clothing, hairstyle, mannerisms etc.) By providing an opportunity for people to share their pronouns, you’re showing that you’re not assuming that their gender identity is based on their appearance.
So why should I add my pronouns to everything?
Pronouns are extremely important for many trans and nonbinary people to feel validated and comfortable. Misgendering refers to the experience of being labeled by others as a gender other than one that a person identifies with. Because many (not all) associate their pronouns with their gender identity, using the wrong pronouns intentionally or unintentionally is a form of misgendering. For example, if somebody refers to an individual who uses they/them pronouns as “she” despite knowing their identity, it may make that individual feel as though they’re being seen as a woman (even if the mistake was accidental). It’s common practice among many transgender and nonbinary individuals to include their pronouns in social media bios to prevent being misgendered in online spaces. Putting pronouns in your bio out of kindness and compassion can signal allyship and help normalize displaying one’s pronouns so trans people don’t have to do all of the heavy lifting.
I saw pronouns other than “she/her” or “he/him”... what do they mean?
There are many pronoun sets outside he/him and she/her. Many nonbinary people use they/them pronouns, which are used exactly how you would use he/him or she/her pronouns. For example, if a teacher asked where your nonbinary friend is, you would say, “they went to their locker to get some books.” The neutrality of these pronouns are appealing to many people who don’t identify as fully male or female. You might also see combinations of pronouns in bios, such as “he/they,” “he/she,” or even “he/him + they/them.” All of these signify that the individual is okay with either set.
You might also come across a pronoun set you don’t recognize at all, like “xe/xem” (pronounced zee/zem) or “ze/hir” (pronounced zee/heer). These are called neopronouns! These pronouns were invented to serve as an alternative to they/them, since not all nonbinary and genderqueer people identify with they/them pronouns. Use these pronouns just like any other set. For example: “Oh you mean Alex? I saw xem the other day when xe went to the store.” As always, if you’re not sure how to use a particular set, just ask respectfully or search for the set online. Click here for a great online resource about neopronouns!
How can I participate in the #MyPronounsAre challenge?
GLSEN National Student Council invites you to normalize displaying your pronouns on International Pronouns Day by doing any of the following:
- Add your pronouns to your social media bios
- Use #MyPronounsAre on your Instagram grid or stories
- Take pictures with our selfie sign (click here to download) and tell us why it’s important to use the correct pronouns for everyone. Be sure to tag us in your posts so we can reshare your pronoun challenges to our stories
- Post this [infographic] about pronouns and tag a few friends to spread the word
For more information about pronouns, check out GLSEN’s Pronoun Guide and visit the website www.glsen.org