Get Inspired, Be Empowered Forums Gender Justice The need to incorporate gender neutral (or gender inclusive) pronouns in every day speech and writing. Reply To: The need to incorporate gender neutral (or gender inclusive) pronouns in every day speech and writing.

Yash Tiwari
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The idea of gender-neutral pronouns has been around for a while, but it wasn’t until my friend and I started discussing non-binary folks that I realized just how important pronouns are. There are only three gender-neutral pronouns in the English language: they/them/their. These are the only words that can be used to refer to those who identify as anything other than male or female. The non-binary community identifies as space outside of the cisgender and transgender binary, and they use non-gendered pronouns. When I first began speaking with non-binary students about their pronouns, I was uninformed about how to be respectful of their needs.

Pronouns matter because they give marginalized groups political power. The he/she dichotomy does not acknowledge that there are more than two genders, which in itself is a problem. But, even if you only subscribe to the binary idea of gender, by constantly using singular pronouns to talk about people you’re almost subconsciously telling them that they do not matter and their life experiences are trivialized. One way to think about this is that using a non-gendered pronoun is the politest, most respectful version of asking a person their pronouns. Using a gendered pronoun implies you already know someone’s gender without even bothering to ask them what it is. It disregards how they view themselves. Many people don’t know what it means to be genderqueer or non-binary. They might assume you’re a woman if you look feminine, or a man if you look masculine. Although someone’s external appearance can be an indicator of their gender identity, it shouldn’t be the only one.

A common misconception is that non-binary denotes a binary gender. Using this word in place of other gendered pronouns allows people who do identify as non-binary to not feel excluded. A language is a powerful tool, and it is our responsibility to use it wisely. As with using any tool, the best way to learn how to use it is to practice. This means that, if you want to be a good example for your child in this way or just naturally integrate more gender-neutral language into your everyday communication, try at least once a day to replace the pronouns he or she with they, him or her, and him/her. A lot of people think gender-neutral (or gender-inclusive) pronouns are new to the English language and the result of a modern-day interpretation of language. The truth is the opposite. There have been different versions of English for much longer than we have had written records, and those older forms of spoken English reflected gender equality.