He Said, She Said, They Said: Why Gender Pronouns Matter
We love Pride Month: rainbows, inclusion, parades, and all. And being all up in our feel-goods about it last week, we were a little shook to see the Catholic Church officially reject the notion of gender fluidity. The institution claims that a culture-wide “disorientation” is trying to cancel out the “natural difference between man and woman.” However, the church’s “guide” to the “most debated questions around human sexuality” ignores one crucial fact: gender is a social concept, not a biological or religious one.
The concept of gender fluidity means some people identify as having more than one gender, no gender, a fluctuating gender, or a gender that doesn’t align with their sex at birth (also known as transgender). Respect for gender fluidity and a person’s right to identify as they choose means remaining open to the idea that people don’t have to look a certain way or present as a particular gender to be accepted by society.
Understanding gender pronouns
So much of our language is taken for granted—words roll off our tongue thousands of times each day and we rarely stop to consider the meaning behind them, especially functional words like prepositions, subject articles, and pronouns.
But pronouns aren’t in the same category of filler language like “the” and “of” anymore. Pronouns are linked with identity, and using pronouns to speak about someone in the third person makes assumptions about gender, which is tricky now that gender is no longer considered restricted by the binary categories of male and female. Beyond gendered pronouns—He/Him/His or She/Her/Hers—some people prefer They/Them, or even the newer option of Ze/Hir.
Being respectful in a changing world
Using someone’s preferred pronoun is the same as using their correct name. You wouldn’t call “Jim” by the name “Bob” just because he looks more like a Bob to you. So it’s just as disrespectful to insist on using “he” with someone who prefers “she” or “they.” If you’re not sure how to approach the subject with someone, asking simply and politely what pronoun they prefer is usually sufficient.
Happy Pride Month to all!
At YBH, we celebrate Pride all year long, but Pride Month is a special time. This year, we hosted a Drag Queen Story Hour event. It was a fun morning filled with stories, crafts for kids, mimosas for adults, and of course, over-the-top glamour.
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