Slacker’s Syllabus: Pronouns

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pro·​noun| \ ˈprō-ˌnau̇n \

grammar : a word (such as I, he, she, you, it, we, or they) that is used instead of a noun or noun phrase

Merriam-Webster

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When we use pronouns, we are often making an assumption about another person’s gender identity based on how we perceive them.

But a significant number of Americans don’t identify as cis-gender men or women, so we can’t use the usual “he” or “she” when we talk about them.

1.4 million

Americans identify as trans

According to the Williams Institute at UCLA Law

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Trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people are fighting for the right to be called by the pronouns that match their gender identity.

Social norms evolve and change, but one thing remains universally true: it costs us nothing to be kind. Today, one of the kindest things we can do for those in our lives is to respect their self-determination and self-definition, including their pronouns.

Psychologist Stefani Goerlich

Being misgendered — in part, through the use of incorrect pronouns — negatively impacts the mental and physical health of trans and gender nonconforming (TGNC) people, increases the stigma they face in healthcare settings, and makes them feel invalidated.

The negative effects of misgendering are so extreme that purposefully using the incorrect pronouns to refer to an individual is considered misconduct in a court of law in the U.S.

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There is a widespread movement amongst both TGNC and cis-gender allies to normalize pronoun sharing. That way, the onus doesn’t always fall on already marginalized people to announce themselves.

1.2 million

Americans identify as nonbinary

According to the Williams Institute at UCLA Law

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Not all nonbinary people use they/them pronouns and not all people who use they/them pronouns identify as nonbinary.

And also, some people use a combination of pronouns — like she/they — and they may prefer for them to be used fluidly or randomly.

The Male/Female binary has never existed. We’ve just been limited by what we could see. Modern science has expanded our field of vision and when you consider all the possible combinations of chromosomes, hormones, and anatomy? There are at least 29 different genders.

Psychologist Stefani Goerlich

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Some people may use pronouns that you’ve never heard of before. They’re called neopronouns, and they may have nothing to do with gender.

I've never felt like the gender I was assigned at birth, nor like an ‘opposite’ of that gender. The default ‘they/them’ didn't feel like me.