International Pronouns Day; 5 Ways To Practice Using Pronouns (And 5 Ways To Share Your Own!)
Happy International Pronouns Day! Today, we celebrate the diversity of language, and the numerous unique ways in which human beings can refer to themselves and others. Whether someone's pronouns are brand new to you, or you just need a refresher on using a friend's pronouns correctly, here's a list with some tips for practicing others' pronouns, as well as sharing your own.
1. Have a conversation.
Sometimes the best way to practice using someone's pronouns is simple repetition. Try having a chat with a mutual friend and share something about the person whose pronouns you're trying to practice using.
Example: "Simon works at a thrift store. Xe gets to take home all kinds of neat stuff. Xir favorite find is that bright red raincoat xe wears all the time. That store is really lucky to have xem working there."
2. Write a letter.
For some folks, writing is the best way to get used to new words and ideas. Try writing a note to a mutual friend and telling them a fun fact about your friend while using their correct pronouns.
Example: "Alejandra is super good at baseball. They play on their neighborhood league. I wish I could be as good as them, but they said they'd be happy to teach me sometime!"
3. For folks with multiple pronoun sets; create a short story.
If your friend uses multiple pronouns, try writing a short story about an adventure they've had (whether real or fictional). Alternate pronouns with each sentence to get used to using both sets.
Example: "Moss was feeling kind of blue yesterday, so ze went on a walk. He stopped to look at his neighborhood's little free library on the way. Ze noticed that there were only three books left; so, ze picked up some books at a thrift store and restocked it. His neighbors were very grateful and wrote him a nice thank you note."
4. Use the Practice With Pronouns website.
If you click this link, it'll take you to a nifty little website that can help you practice memorizing and using the different forms of pronouns! From she/her to ve/ver to xe/xem, the fill-in-the-blank option makes it easily customizable for you to practice your friend's pronouns.
5. Say "thank you", not "sorry".
When you're practicing your friend's pronouns, there will undoubtedly be a moment where you make a mistake. Your instinct may be to say "I'm so sorry!" - but sometimes, apologizing can make your friend feel guilty, even if that wasn't your intention. Rather than apologizing, simply say "thank you for your patience" or "thank you for correcting me", and move on with the conversation.
Now that you've got some pronoun practice in the works, let's check out some ways that you can share your own pronouns!
1. Wear a pronoun pin.
Pronoun pins are available most everywhere these days, so it shouldn't be too challenging to find one to pin to your shirt! If you're unable to find a pin, though, cardstock, packing tape, and a safety pin makes for a great temporary one.
2. Add your pronouns wherever your name is.
Email signatures, nametags, class rosters, social media bios; the options are endless! Putting your pronouns with your name not only communicates an important piece of information about you, but helps others know how to respectfully refer to you in conversation.
3. Start sharing your pronouns when you introduce yourself.
Whether you're chatting with a neighbor or about to walk into a job interview, giving your pronouns with your name when introducing yourself can be a great way to share. If you're having a conversation, this could even be a great opportunity to encourage other folks to share their pronouns as well.
4. Avoid the word "preferred".
Asking for someone's preferred pronouns was the cultural norm for a long time. However, pronouns are not a preference; to refer to them as preferred rather than mandatory can make folks feel disrespected. Try sharing your own pronouns and then simply asking "what are your pronouns?" instead; no need for an adjective before it!
5. Be ready to learn.
When you share your pronouns, it encourages others around you to share theirs as well. Remember; by sharing your pronouns with others and having others share their pronouns with you, you're offering each other mutual respect and recognition of each other's identities.
To learn more about International Pronouns Day, check out the official website here.