Talking About Your Pronouns Is One Easy Way To Be A Transgender Ally

 Talking About Your Pronouns Is One Easy Way To Be A Transgender Ally

Jamie Wareham

It’s long been rude to get someone’s gender wrong, most easily done by using the wrong pronouns. Whether that’s on the phone, or in person – it’s embarrassing for all involved.

But there is now a more urgent reason, that getting people’s gender right is vital.

New research shows, that for transgender people who live their lives with people who use their correct pronouns, it halves the chance they’ll try to take their life.

To put this in perspective, numerous studies have shown that a staggering half of all transgender people will attempt suicide at some point in their life.

The new peer-reviewed research by The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organisation for LGBTQ young people, have now found that the risk suicide is dramatically reduced where their identity is respected.Recommended For You

Transgender and non-binary youth who reported having their pronouns respected by all or most of the people in their lives attempted suicide at half the rate of those who did not have their pronouns respected.

While those with access, compared to those without, to tools such as binders, shape-wear, and gender-affirming clothing also report lower rates of attempting suicide in the past year. It also found those who are put through LGBT conversion are at a higher rate of suicide.

Some people argue, talking about, and displaying pronouns is a clunky and messy task.

But it’s actually simple. If you’re ever unsure about what pronouns you should use for someone, it’s perfectly polite to ask them – what pronouns do you use?

And this research shows, not only is it one easy way to be a transgender ally – but it can help to save lives.

Should I display my pronouns in email signatures, social media and LinkedIn bio?

For many transgender people, displaying and telling you about their pronouns is an easy way to show the world the pronouns they’d like you to use.

But, it goes beyond trans and non-binary equality.

When cisgender people do it as well, it normalises discussions about gender – a conversation that benefits everyone.

“Respecting the language that youth use to self-identify their gender is not only polite —  it can save lives,” Myeshia Price-Feeney, Ph.D. (she/her), Research Scientist at The Trevor Project tells me.

“New data from our 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health demonstrate that affirming gender identity among transgender and non-binary youth is consistently associated with lower rates of suicide attempts, and that is particularly true for respecting one’s pronouns.

It’s clear that one of the ways parents, family members, school staff, health professionals, colleagues, and other cisgender allies in a transgender or non-binary young person’s life can best support them is by consistently using their pronouns. 

How do I start talking about pronouns?

The Trevor Project say the key is to listen and to be open to learning.

“We can never assume someone’s pronouns, in the same way we cannot assume someone’s name,” Myeshia adds.

“The best way to confirm another person’s pronouns is by simply asking or by introducing yourself with your own pronouns, to give the person an opportunity to share theirs.”

You could think about doing this in conversations you have digitally too.

“Including pronouns in your email signature and social media profiles is an important move towards inclusivity,” LGBT+ Inclusion Consultant Gina Battye tells me.

“It shows you care about individuals preferences and is a simple solution to accidental misgendering.”

What about if I get someones pronouns wrong?

Misgendering is getting someones gender wrong. It can be embarrassing for you, and hurtful to the person you are speaking too.

If it happens, it is best to apologise, correct yourself and continue the conversation you were having.

Some trans and non-binary people might ask you to use the gender-neutral pronouns they/them/their.

That’s because everyone’s gender identity and gender expression are on a spectrum. Understanding this is a vital part of being a trans ally and should be part and parcel of including pronouns in your signature.

All of this may sound like an unnecessary level of ‘woke’ to bring to the office. But Battye says, on a deeper level changes like this leads to powerful cultural shifts in organisations:

“It creates a safe space so everyone can bring their whole self to work, no longer needing to censor or hide parts of themselves. This leads to greater productivity, creativity and connection with colleagues and your organisational purpose.”

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Originally posted on Forbes


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