What’s Your Preferred Pronoun?

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Some organizations are getting ahead of the curve on pronoun choice

Several LGBT friendly businesses and organizations have taken steps to ensure gender queer people feel more comfortable expressing their pronouns of choice.

A person’s pronoun of choice or preferred gender pronoun is the pronoun someone prefers to be addressed with. POCs generally include the pronouns “he/him,” “she/her” and “they/them.”

Usually transgender, agender and gender fluid people experience the most frustrations when it comes to dealing with pronouns of choice because theirs might not match their perceived gender.

Knowing this, organizations like the National LGBTQ Task Force and GLAAD have encouraged employees to include their preferred pronouns in their email signatures, regardless of their gender identities.

AIDS United is one of the organizations that has made the change.

“It was actually suggested by one of our staff who had noticed several other organizations doing the same,” said Michael Kaplan, the president and CEO of the AIDS United. “We work a lot with trans-identified individuals, and it made sense to follow suit.”

Jack Qu’emi, who identifies using “they/them” pronouns, said “they” like the idea of introducing one’s pronoun of choice right away.

“Especially when you are working in an LGBTQ plus environment, It’s so good to see people encourage eradicating assumptions,” Qu’emi said. “Expression is fluid. Gender is fluid.”

Kaplan said he’s glad to do it if it will help people feel more comfortable when doing business with AIDS United.

“It’s such an easy way to say, ‘Look, we understand that there’s a huge diversity in gender identity and gender orientation,’” he said. “We let people know we’re trans inclusive and trans supportive.”

Brent Stanfield, who identifies as “they/them,” said it’s a good idea and it solves the problem for emailing, but that it’s still difficult to introduce pronouns of choice in everyday conversation. A potential solution for that, Stanfield said, would be if people could wear pins or buttons with their preferred pronouns on them.

“It’s something people are consistently seeing,” Stanfield said. “It helps people to understand that I’m not forcing it on them, but that they could be aware of it.”

Kylar Broadus, the transgender civil rights director at the National LGBTQ Task Force, said the Task Force has taken a number of steps to ensure gender queer people feel comfortable interacting with them.

“Somewhere along the lines, we included everyone that didn’t conform to the binary,” Broadus said. “We use transgender as a term that includes everyone who doesn’t conform to the gender binary. Not only do we cater to the LGBTQ crowd, but we also reinforce wanting people to define themselves.”

Stanfield said they’d like to see people asking about their gender pronoun in the future and wish people would use gender-neutral pronouns in more common situations.

“A lot of times, I don’t share my pronouns because I don’t think they will be respected when I’m having conversations with other people in other places,” Stanfield said. “I wish people could have the courage to use gender neutral pronouns and talk about how they work even if they don’t identify using them.”

Broadus said the Task Force will continue to work on creating a more accepting environment, but for now they have other more important issues to tackle.

“Do we pay attention to being respectful towards other people’s pronouns?” Broadus asked. “Yeah, but right now our focus is on stopping trans murders. Nobody should die at the hands of a murderer.”


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