October 19 is International Pronouns Day. The day is observed to respect, share, and educate about personal pronouns.
Pronouns are NOT new!
The singular “they” was common until the Victorian era, when gender-neutral pronouns defaulted to “he” as encompassing both the masculine and feminine. The words “he” or “she” can feel limiting. This is due to a social set of expectations about how someone should express their identity.
Reference: So You Want To Talk About, Pronouns 101, from PSAC’s Gender Inclusive Language Toolkit:
What are pronouns?
Pronouns are words we use to reference someone without repeatedly using their name. The pronouns we use can also express our gender identity to others.
An individual can use one set of pronouns or multiple sets, which can include they/them/their,ze/hir/hirs, she/her/hers, and he/him/his, among many others.
When you’re not sure what pronouns a person uses, use their name. You can’t know for sure what pronouns someone uses just based on their appearance, behaviour or by hearing them speak. Avoiding assumptions by asking for a person’s pronouns and correctly using them is one of the most basic ways to show your respect for their gender identity and your commitment to inclusion.
You can start by sharing your own pronouns, which can encourage others to share theirs.
“Hey there! I’m Netta, and I use they/them pronouns.”
Remember, not everyone wants to share their pronouns publicly. If someone doesn’t share, don’t force them. If you encounter someone who doesn’t want to share, it’s always best to just use their name.
Antonietta/ Netta Coccaro (they/them)
PSAC Ontario Council