Pronouns: What Do You Use?
Updated: May 27, 2021
It's easy to not think twice about this, but what pronouns do you use?
Being queer and non-binary, I've often had struggles with my pronouns. Some days I feel like a "he," other days I feel like a "they." Most days I feel like "they," but I've come to the conclusion that the world enjoys its binary language and the concept of using a plural form for a single person is still hard to grasp. Especially if you're not used to queering language.
The takeaway: respect what someone says they go by. No matter what.
In 2017 The Huffington Post featured an informative first person piece by queer writer Sassafras Lowery. Ze goes a little more in depth on the why and usage of pronouns, specifically from a non-binary, genderqueer view. While understanding your own gender identity important, it's also important to understand others.
This is a little guide to commonplace pronouns —
Often refers to people who identify as boys or men, but are not limited to male people. Do not assume that all people who appear to be masculine or affirm a male identity use he/him/his pronouns.
The same goes for this. Referred to people who identify as girls or women, but not limited to only female-identified people. Just because someone has long hair, wears makeup and has feminine features does not mean they use these pronouns.
They is often used in reference to a singular person whose gender pronouns are unknown. Some people, like myself, choose to use they/them/their because they feel best represented outside of the gender binary.
The ze/hir, ze/zir pronoun sets come from the trans community as another gender-neutral pronoun set. It’s up to each individual to decide which pronoun best fits them and their identities. Ze is typically pronounced like the letter Z. Hir is typically pronounced like the word “here.” Zir is typically pronounced like “here” with a z in front.
Or you can just use my name!
If you don't know someone, don't assume you know their pronouns. Much like identities, pronouns can be just as complex and fluid. Some days a person may feel like "he" and some days that same person may feel like using "she." Also, depending on social settings, work environments and other spaces, those pronouns may change. Either way, if you aren't familiar with them, just use their name!
This by all means is no definitive list but rather a starting point for understanding. New pronouns are being created all the time (per/pers/perself or xe/xem/xyr/xyrs). As language evolves, so should your understanding of it. If you have questions, research. Talk to your friends.