Have you ever referred to someone as “he” and they said, “ I use they/them pronouns?”
What that person is saying is that they don’t identify as either male or female. They identify as NON-BINARY. Their Preferred Gender Pronoun or PGP is they/them/theirs.
Confusing? Let’s break it down.
Pronouns may not seem like that big a deal to some people, but for others, they are! Some people are being misgendered because the correct pronouns are not being used to describe them.
A PGP is simply the set of pronouns that an individual would like others to use when talking to or about that individual. In English, the singular pronouns that we usually use are: I, you, she, her, he, him, and it. “I”, “you” and “it” are what we call “gender neutral” or “all gender”, but “she”, “her”, “he” and “him” are gendered. This can create an issue for transgender and gender nonconforming people.
So, what are the PGPs that transgender and gender nonconforming people use?
Well, there are many! There is an infinite amount of pronouns that about as people explore their gender and get comfortable with their identity.
However, the most common PGPs are they/them/theirs.
So, why is it important to respect people's PGPs?
- You can't always know what someone’s PGPs is by looking at them. Just because someone has masculine characteristics, does not mean that they identity as a male and use he/him/his pronouns.
- Asking and correctly using someone's PGP is one of the most basic and genuine ways to show your respect for their gender identity.
- When someone is referred to with the wrong pronoun, it can make them feel disrespected, invalidated, dismissed, alienated.
- It is a privilege to not have to worry about which pronoun someone is going to use for you based on how they perceive your gender. If you have this privilege but you don't respect someone else's gender identity, it is not only disrespectful and hurtful, but also oppressive.
You can learn more about PGPs here.