Umm…What Even are Pronouns?

Think back to English class, where you may remember the word ‘pronouns’. Everybody has pronouns – even you! When you refer to someone as he, she, or they, you are using their pronouns. Somebody’s pronouns are not based on how they look on the outside, but instead reflects  their internal sense of self and how they wish to be seen in the world.

Common pronouns include:  

  • she/her/hers/herself,  
  • he/him/his/himself,  
  • they/them/theirs/themself, and  
  • newer ‘neopronouns’ may include xe/xem/xyr, it/it/its/itself, or ze/hir/hirs.  

TIP - Usually pronouns get shortened e.g. he/him or they/them.

It is helpful to ask what pronouns you should use for somebody. Using the correct pronouns is especially important if you have a transgender child or loved one, as it shows that you respect and support their identity. In fact, calling someone the wrong pronouns or title (misgendering) can cause great distress. So, practice using your child’s preferred pronouns, which may change often for some genderfluid, transgender, and/or nonbinary people.

TIP - This pdf further explains pronouns and gives examples:  

Some people will keep the same pronouns they have always used, or that have always been assumed for them based on how they look. Some people may change their pronouns once, such as from “she” to “he”, or some people may chance their pronouns on a day-to-day basis,  such as switching between “she” or “they” depending on how they feel that day. Some people may be comfortable with many pronouns, and often may prefer for you to use a mix of pronouns when talking to or about them.  This can depend on how they feel their sense of gender and is unique to that person.

TIP – Try out this fun game to practice using the correct pronouns:

This is important to some people as it forms apart of their gender expression, i.e. the way that somebody shows that they are man, woman, or any other gender, including appearance, behaviours, and pronouns. This can be a crucial step to reducing gender dysphoria, which is the incongruity between one’s internal sense of their gender and their anatomy, and can lead to distress, mental health concerns, and even a diagnosable medical condition. And remember, gender is someone’s innate and internal sense of being, which is influenced by society’s rules and norms; this may be different to their assigned sex at birth, which is based on their biological make-up.  

TIP - Read up on gender here:

The treatment for such dysphoria is providing support to socially and/or medically transition, which affirms their gender expression. This transition often includes changing pronouns, but can also include: changing their appearance, titles, or name; safely binding their chest; taking hormones (Hormone Replacement Therapy i.e. HRT); or undergoing gender affirmation surgery (“bottom surgery” and/or “top surgery”). Not every transgender person will feel gender dysphoria or decide to transition, as this is a valid and personal choice.

TIP - Read up on more terms used in understanding gender here:

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