Pronouns are empowering
CAPRI STEVENSON-BISOM Design/Layout Editor
This past year I came out as agender, which means I don’t identify as either a man or woman and I am genderless. I have asked people to start using they/them pronouns when referring to me. As a result, my friends and I have started to make an effort towards being more aware of people’s preferred pronouns and use non-gendered language.
Let’s start with some basic LGBTQ+ terms that pertain to gender identity and expression. My gender identity falls under non-binary or genderqueer, which mean not man or woman. Rather than a man or woman, I would be called an enby. Non-binary and genderqueer fall under the transgender umbrella, not cis. Cisgendered means you identify as the same sex you were assigned at birth.
Gender expression is something entirely different from gender identity. Someone can look masculine, feminine, or androynous, but that does not mean that they are a man, woman or enby. I can wear a suit or a dress or look feminine or masculine and that does not make me any less genderless.
In the english language, common honorifics, such as Mr., Mrs., and Ms., are gender specific terms. A gender-neutral honorific does exist. Mx. (pronounced mix), has been introduced into the english vernacular. It is used mostly by non-binary people, but it can be used by anyone who does not wish to use a gendered title.
They can be a singular pronoun. It is to be used like any other pronoun, he, she, ze, etc. Many dictionaries have recognized that they/them/theirs are singular pronouns. Verb conjugation of singular they would follow the same rules as singular you. An example of proper use could be they did, they are, themself / you did, you are, yourself.
Everyone thinks there isn’t a gender neutral term for nieces and nephews. However, there is a gender neutral term that is also the plural form, nibling. This word is derived from sibling, and we can take it one step further and call aunts and uncles pibling, meaning the siblings of your parents.
A common way to address crowds is to say “ladies and gentlemen.” Some fun alternatives include but are not limited to: “distinguished guests,” “gentlefolk,” “homo sapiens,” “guys, gals, and nonbinary pals,” or just a simple “everyone.”
Many professions tend to put “man” or “woman” after their job title. It can be an easy fix to be more inclusive and replace “man” or “woman” with person or a more appropriate job description. Some common replacements could be: business person instead of businesswoman/man, member of congress instead of congresswoman/man, mail carrier or postal worker instead of mailman, salesperson or sales attendant instead of saleswoman/man, etc.
People who use pronouns besides she or he can still be in romantic relationships. But we wouldn’t be a girlfriend/boyfriend or a wife/husband. Using gender neutral terms like partner, significant other, spouse, or enbyfriend are very important to many enbys.
It can be beneficial to be aware of gendered language not just for non-binary or transgender people, but also to be aware of everyday sexism in the words we use. Take an extra second to ask someone their preferred pronouns and use more inclusive language.