Pronouns Explained

Hello! My name is Charlotte. I use she, her, hers pronouns. For those of you reading this, what is your name and pronouns?

Why is it important to ask about pronouns?

Since pronouns are used when we refer to someone in place of their name, it is important to use the correct pronouns that align with one’s gender identity.

Sex Versus Gender Identity

Gender identity is defined as a person’s experience of their gender whereas sex is the assigned gender at birth. When we are born, we are assigned a label of male or female at birth based on factors such as hormones, chromosomes, and genitals.

I would be considered a cisgender female if my gender assigned at birth also aligns with my gender identity. For someone who is transgender or gender non-binary, their gender identity does not align with the gender assigned at birth.

Always ask and don’t make assumptions!

Many people make assumptions of others’ pronouns based on observations of gender expression through physical appearance, choice of clothing, or mannerisms but by doing so, you risk misgendering.

Some of the most commonly uses pronouns include the following:

  • he, him, his
  • she, her, hers
  • they, them, theirs
  • Ze (zie) zee or xe
  • Using a combination of pronouns
  • Using one’s name in place of the pronoun

It is a sign of respect to use the correct name and pronouns when referring to somebody.

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind related to pronouns:

• Don’t make assumptions about one’s gender identity.
• Don’t question or expect someone to explain their gender identity.
• Don’t invalidate one’s choice of pronouns.
• Don’t make excuses if you accidentally uses the wrong pronouns.

• Introduce yourself by stating your name and pronouns, then ask the person you meet what their name and pronouns are.
• Accept and use one’s stated pronouns.
• Show respect by using the correct pronouns.
• Apologize if you accidentally use the wrong pronoun.
• Correct people who use the wrong pronoun to identify someone.

Written By: Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC

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