What Are Your Gender Pronouns? The Question Is Important Now More Than Ever
Depending on how your gender expressions evolve, so can your pronouns. Simple.
Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam
Camera: Shivkumar Maurya
From pronouns being included in formal introductions and informal chats, to being outlined in email signatories and Zoom profiles – the practice of embracing your pronouns is slowly finding its space in the mainstream.
This symbolic gesture is, however, far from being a workplace norm – and that is why it is important to talk about it. But before we learn, we must unlearn.
When someone refers to themselves using the pronouns 'they', here's a few responses they receive:
Hey, I see you, but who are 'they'?
Khud ko ‘hum’ kyun bolte ho. Raja Maharaja ho kya?
Oh, that's so cool! From today, I'm also they/them.
Oh wait, but isn’t that grammatically incorrect?
So, you chose it yourself, so even I can choose to not call you they. Its a choice for me too, right?
Sex is a physical trait assigned at birth, while gender is just a social construct.
How Is This Tied to Pronouns?
Pronouns are basically how we identify ourselves apart from our name. For example, one might say:
"I’m Saptarshi and I use he/him" or "I’m Ayesha and I use she/her".
So, depending on how your gender expressions evolve, so can your pronouns. Simple.
But one might ask, can one person have a plural pronoun?
The answer to that, is yes. Today's grammar police may also find it interesting to note that this practice isn't even new and has been used throughout history.
From Geoffrey Chaucer to Jane Austen, Agatha Christie to the Bard William Shakespeare himself, all referred to their singular self as 'they.'
It was back in the 18th century that grammar buffs begun warning that the singular 'they' was an error because the singular they just cannot be used for a singular thing.
And now, almost three centuries later, steps are being taken to normalise this, to refer people with pronouns they actually want.
Everyone has preferred pronouns that are used when referring to them – and getting those pronouns right is everybody’s responsibility, so everybody gets equal recognition. Yes, you too!
How Can You Be More Gender Inclusive?
First, listen. Listen to those who live with these identities, and because of whose efforts, the word ‘they’ was officially recognised as a grammatically correct, singular, and non-binary pronoun.
Second, ask. Rather than assuming someone’s pronouns, ask them how they like to be addressed. Like a name, introduce yourself with your own pronouns to open the door for others to feel comfortable sharing their name and pronouns with you, too.
A phrase you might consider using is:
“Hi, I’m (your name), I use (your pronouns) as my personal pronouns, what pronouns do you use?"
If you are unsure of someone’s pronouns and they haven’t shared them with you, to be certain, just use their name.
Third, if you make a mistake, just apologise as soon as you recognise your error, politely correct it, and move forward.
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