I have to admit that I didn’t get it. In the past year, I’ve seen an increased use of gender pronouns in Zoom calls, email signature lines, and social media.
She/Her/Hers, He/Him/His, They/Them/Theirs
They are all familiar words, but I had no clue what they meant or how to use them correctly. “Gender identification,” “non-binary,” and “transgender” are all terms I’ve heard, but I didn’t quite understand.
During Pride Month, my workplace hosted events, shared articles, and provided resources to expand our knowledge. Fortunately, these events helped me learn to become a better ally to my colleagues and create an inclusive environment. Everyone deserves to feel comfortable expressing themselves as they are.
Recently, I attended an event that featured a TED Talk by Hannah Fons: Neither He, Nor She, But Me. Hannah, who uses the pronouns she/they, defines terms and shares her story of growing up feeling alone in a world where no one looked like her. As a mother, hearing that someone can grow up with this innate feeling that they are different but feel unable to express it makes my heart ache.
I decided to grow and expand my knowledge.
Being an ally at work is a start, but more importantly, I want to teach my children how to love and accept others. In order to do this, I know that I have to learn, understand, and grow. For me, it started with learning the terms, adding them to my vocabulary, and understanding gender pronouns. Colorado Springs Mom has a great resource: Understanding Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sexual Orientation
Now that I understand the vocabulary, I’m learning to use it. Here are some tips I’ve found helpful.
Just like I ask a person their name, I can ask their pronouns. It shows I am sincere and willing to understand.
If someone has shared their pronoun, I respect their identity and use it.
It might be different and uncomfortable at first, but it gets easier with practice. Another tip: calling someone by their name is a safe bet.
We all make mistakes especially when we’re new to something. That’s okay. It’s going to happen. If I make a mistake, I will be accountable and make amends. I might even ask a friend to point out when I make a mistake so I am aware.
Moving forward, I’ll continue to listen to those willing to share their stories. Listening to others express their feelings, struggles, and triumphs reminds me that we are all human, deserving of love and acceptance. I’ll continue to grow and expand my knowledge and self-awareness. I’ll ask questions and have conversations even when they are uncomfortable. I’ll practice the terms and try to use them correctly. And, if I make a mistake, I will take ownership and try again.
Sharing the stories I’ve heard and the knowledge I’ve gained with my children will be next. Now that I get it, I can formulate the words to have a conversation with my children. I have a feeling that they might find this conversation silly since children tend to love and accept others quite easily.
I invite you to learn more about resources in our area! Check out the following:
Originally published July 2021.
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