Pronouns are something we’ve used all our lives. To be specific, pronouns are words that we use instead of nouns or noun phrases. People use it to refer to someone or something when it’s not necessary to take their names.
The origin of pronouns dates back to the late Middle English era in the 1800s.
They’re mere simple words used to refer to someone. Yet, it is one of the most personal things to any human being. So, it is crucial to understand the importance of personal pronouns.
A simple definition of a pronoun is that it is a word used on behalf of something. However, in today’s world, it carries a lot more meaning than what it generally implies.
A general assumption is that people use pronouns that reflect their gender assigned at birth. You might use she/her while talking about a woman and he/him when it’s a man. However, our world has moved past the “there is only two genders” phase.
Along with gender identities, the pronouns people use has also become a personal choice. No matter who you identify as you’re free to use any pronoun as you please. And it is actually disrespectful (sometimes harassment) to assume someone’s pronoun and call them as you like.
We’re all assigned a specific gender at birth but it’s not necessary that we identify with it. And making assumptions about people’s gender based on how they look is the most disrespectful thing you can do.
Therefore, it is essential to know what personal pronoun/s someone uses and understand its importance. It is a way to create inclusivity and show respect to someone. It shows that you validate their gender expression and honor their identity.
As crucial as personal pronouns are, it is fairly a new approach in recognizing someone. So, it is possible that we make mistakes while using it. But that doesn’t give anyone the right to be ignorant.
There are millions of people who don’t identify as simply male or female. People of the LGBTQ community such as transgenders, intersex, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming people are the ones who are most affected by the ignorance.
Personal pronouns, as the name suggests are highly individualistic. It is a way of someone expressing their identity with the world.
Be that as it may, personal pronouns don’t always mean gender pronouns. What one prefers is completely one’s choice that doesn’t necessarily have to do with the gender they belong to or identify as.
You can always use she/her or he/him to refer to someone as long as they’re okay with it. However, it’s always a good idea to ask people if they’re comfortable before making assumptions or choosing to ignore their preferences.
And if nothing makes sense, there are gender-neutral pronouns on standby to rescue you from being disrespectful. For instance, you can use the term they/them to refer to anyone if you’re not sure of what personal pronouns someone uses.
They/them is usually used as a plural form, but it is also an acceptable singular term. And you can use they/them to refer to a single person.
There are other gender-neutral pronouns you can use instead of he/she, him/her, etc. like Zie/Sie, Zim/Hir, etc.