As you probably may already be aware, Instagram has rolled out a new profile feature that allows people to share their pronouns. This is something that LinkedIn facilitated a few years ago, and many people have incorporated into their email signatures, signing off with he/him, she/her, or they/them.
Though some may be prepared to write this off as a passing trend or a post-modern fashion statement, we are convinced it is not.
Despite the doubts and resistance, it is important to recognise that language matters and “we can rewrite the rules of idiom use”.
We are a group of cisgender persons. That’s why, before that, people began to talk about specifying pronouns in bio; we have never felt the need to do it.
First of all, because the sentences “I dress/act like a woman” don’t make sense. Gender identity, the gender you feel you belong to, is different from gender expression, including all the ways a person communicates their gender based on societal factors such as gender norms and perceptions. The two things may align, but they also may not, and that’s ok.
The reason behind adding our pronouns to our bios or signatures is simple: being recognised with the correct pronouns is essential if you are a transgender person. Using pronouns helps normalise discussions about gender, especially for trans and non-binary communities.
So, if you are not part of the LGBTQIA+ community, but you consider yourself an ally, specifying your pronouns is effortless to do. Still, it means the world to others because it contributes to creating a more inclusive environment. Plus, it normalises the fact that gender identity is not a synonym of gender expression.
Taking a stand about these themes is not a fancy demonstration of being “woke” but is crucial in a society still highly discriminating against transgender people.
According to a 2018 University of Arizona study, “50.8 per cent of transmasculine adolescents between the ages of 11 and 19 have attempted suicide at least once, while 41.8 per cent of nonbinary adolescents – those who don’t identify as exclusively male or exclusively female – have attempted suicide. The next most at-risk adolescent groups were transfeminine – those who were born male but identified as female – at 29.9 per cent, and those questioning their gender identity, at 27.9 per cent.”
If you are not cis in such a hostile world, you shouldn’t feel obligated to come out, and you should only display your pronouns if you feel safe, ready, and comfortable doing so. It is entirely valid not to feel ready to come out, especially if you are still figuring out your gender identity.