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International Pronoun Day

Illustration of young people wearing sweaters with their gender pronouns - she, he, them

Today is International Pronoun Day, which takes place every year on the third Wednesday of October. 

International Pronoun Day recognizes the importance of addressing someone by their correct pronouns. Activists, LGBTQA+ educators, and resource centers share why pronouns are essential and further the conversation around making pronoun-sharing commonplace. 

Why do pronouns matter?

Referring to people by their correct pronouns indicates your respect for someone’s identity. When we assume someone’s gender and/or pronouns without asking first, it can send a harmful message. Correct pronoun usage can go a long way to show allyship with your colleagues and indicate your awareness of what inclusion looks like in practice. 

How do I know if I’m using the correct pronouns?

People may not offer their pronouns automatically, so it’s easy to assume incorrectly. We recommend the following tips to learn pronouns without having to presume:

  • Introduce yourself with your pronouns (others will more likely mirror this behavior)
  • Ask someone: “What pronouns do you use?” or “Can you remind me what pronouns you use?”

Here are some other ways to be inclusive when using and respecting people’s pronouns:

  • Offer introductions that give space for people to share their pronouns if they wish (never force someone to share if they indicate they don’t want to, just call them by their name)
  • Add pronouns in your email signature
  • Add pronouns on name tags at events
  • Add pronouns within your zoom name
  • Ask for pronouns in surveys or other forms used for gathering information

What do I do if I mess up?

First, recognize that this is a common issue, as this is new for many people and it takes time and practice to rewire our brains. Here are some ways to address the situation when you accidentally misgender someone:

  • Genuinely apologize, and be sure that your apology doesn’t focus on you. Try not to explain how hard this is for you, but rather keep it short and clear.
  • Be sure to correct yourself as soon as you become aware (whether that’s your realization or someone else letting you know).
  • Practice makes perfect. Practice with Pronouns is a great resource that allows you to practice using a variety of pronouns. 

Some further Resources:

International Pronoun Day is a great way to start a conversation about the importance of pronouns, how your workplace can be inclusive of pronoun usage, and the areas in which your organization can grow within its learning and implementation journey.