R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Find out What Pronouns Mean to a Community

It’s that time of year again! International Pronouns Day is officially in full swing. Though many believe that the LGBTQ+ battle has already been won, there is still much more to do in 2019. Misgendering is a huge problem that affects the transgender community worldwide. Being referred to by incorrect personal pronouns is a major part of this. International Pronouns Day was meant to raise awareness to this often overlooked piece of invalidation.

According to a study done by IPSOS, only 38% of Americans would refer to a transgender man with a masculine pronoun, only 20% would refer to a transgender woman with a feminine pronoun, and a shocking 18% would refer to a person with a gender neutral pronoun. This is only in America. The results elsewhere in the world are equally as disturbing.

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International Pronouns Day allows visibility to people who feel invisible. On Wednesday, a handful of LGBTQ+ activists and organizations convened to discuss the importance of personal pronouns.

“We can’t put us all in a box anymore,” singer and political activist Melissa Etheridge said on the matter.

The path to more acceptance starts with making people feel more comfortable. International Pronouns Day is celebrated to “make respecting, sharing and educating about personal pronouns commonplace,” according to HRC Deputy Press Secretary Elliott Kozuch.

One way we can uphold this is to normalize asking people for their pronouns. Trans people don’t all look alike. You never know how someone identifies unless you provide them with the option. Another way we can make sure everyone feels secure in their identity is by referring to them by their pronouns. We also must keep in mind that since gender is fluid, these can change. Conducting pronoun check-ins can give people the freedom to explore their identity while feeling respected and heard.

Mistakes will happen, and that’s okay. Always own up to accidental misgendering. Know that it sometimes takes time to learn. Above all else, make sure to try your hardest not to slip up again. There are plenty of online and offline resources that can help.

All in all, International Pronouns Day is a huge step in the right direction for LGBTQ+ equality. While this holiday certainly brings attention to the misgendering issue, everyone needs to be willing to learn about and accept different identities and the pronouns that come with them every day of the year. Hopefully, we can all come to a more accepting place with the help of resources, pronoun normalization, and awareness for the future.

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