Importance of Using Proper Pronouns when Addressing People with Different Gender Affiliations

Sex refers to differences in biological and physiological characteristic of the person whereas gender is socially constructed based on the social norms and roles for particular gender by society. This leads to misconceptions; stereotypes, discrimination towards them and people might face difficulty in accepting themselves, being accepted by others consequent to having to deal with discrimination on daily basis. The rising awareness, social media campaigns, legal rights, pride march and ally making society aware, accepting and inclusive towards different gender identity and sexual orientation. Through this, we as a society are unlearning beliefs and perspective on these concepts and re-learning about them. Gender is fluid, it is not this or that but it is a continuum.

Pronouns are based on the people’s gender identity and how they want themselves to be referred to by others such as he/him, she/her, they/them, zi/zer and so on.

It is the way you address the person when you are not using their name. Gender pronouns are important as they lead to the inclusion of everyone in society. It is a way to show respect and acceptance towards everyone in society and not treating them differently based on gender identity.  To use gender-neutral pronouns if you are not aware of the other person’s pronouns or you can tell others about their pronouns. 

Language is the medium through which we communicate largely as a society. It is important to be cautious about what we are saying and what words we are using. It shows how language leads to discrimination, misconception and behavioural change towards them. The language whether that is used intentionally and unintentionally has an impact on how people make sense of themselves and their surroundings. Gender pronouns are the way through which we use language in terms of our identity, and it helps make language-neutral and inclusive. Some languages have the issue of not having words for some gender or gender-neutral terms, this highlights that also.

The new socially agreed-upon terms can be used or terms from other languages can be borrowed. The homophobic slurs, intentionally not using the correct pronouns, and making fun of the identity of a person has an impact on the way person perceive themselves. It leads to doubt about their self, identity, and they face discrimination, unacceptance, and bullying from society. It leads to doubting their identity, fear of coming out, fear of acceptance, discrimination, hate crime, bully, different treatment from loved ones, and social exclusion. It impacts their self-esteem, identity and wellbeing. The appropriate usage of pronouns leads to and step towards acceptance and inclusion. It leads to a feeling of being seen, heard and accepted in the person. 

We as a society need to unlearn certain patterns and beliefs and relearn about them, it is not easy to do that. In this process, you can make mistakes, fall back to old patterns and question it. It takes time to bring change in self and others. It is okay if you mistakenly used the wrong pronouns as we are also learning, but make sure to work on unlearning and relearning, apologize to the person and be more attentive from next time. We can be an ally to them in the process of unlearning and bringing changes in self, working towards bringing change in society by spreading awareness and helping others to unlearn. 

Gender pronouns are like the little way to acknowledge someone’s identity. It is part of personal identity. It is the way to show respect to each other’s identity and inclusion of everyone in the society.

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Masters in Psychology, Delhi University Curious about Psychology, writer by expressivity ! Expression of human thoughts via words is one of the biggest achievements of mankind. "Run to rescue with love and peace will follow"- Joaquin Phoenix
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