Pronouns are extremely important in the LGBTQ community. If you have nothing else, you have your name and there is great power in words and how you use them. Making sure you use someone’s correct gender pronouns is a way to ensure that they feel treated as another human being. Although it may appear obvious what someone’s preferred pronouns are, it is always good to get into the habit of asking them what they prefer to be referred as. There’s harm in mistaking someone’s pronouns, but there is no harm in checking in with them or apologizing for your mistakes.
Although there are new pronouns being developed each day, some of the most common are:
The she/her/hers, he/him/his and they/them/theirs tracks are the most common, but for those who live outside those norms, it helps to have more gender inclusive pronouns. As uwm.edu explains, “a gender neutral or gender inclusive pronoun is a pronoun which does not associate a gender with the individual who is being discussed.” These inclusive pronouns can also live outside the confines of other languages that treat gender identity more rigidly.
But pronouns don’t always have to be established by the LGBTQ community. How a person is addressed can also just be particular to them specifically. For instance performance artist Taylor Mac uses the pronoun “judy”, specifying that judy is also meant to always be spelled in lowercase.. So when talking about Taylor Mac you might say something like, “I really enjoyed Taylor’s Mac’s play at Steppenwolf. judy really understands how to deconstruct the kitchen sink drama. judy is such a good playwright.”
Because there are so many pronouns and more to come, it is important to never assume a queer person’s pronouns. Pronouns are a reinforcement of a person’s gender identity and expression.