In the past few years, the number of terms used to identify gender has grown. It’s becoming more common for people to be open about their gender expression and how they would like to be addressed.

We are familiar with the pronouns he/him and she/her, which most cisgendered males and females would go by.

What about the people who identify as non-binary and don’t go by either terms?

The gender neutral pronoun ‘they’ was recently added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. With the definition, “Used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is non-binary.” Non-binary individuals now have their preferred pronouns validated.

People who are very fervent with their grammar might find this shocking coming from America’s oldest dictionary.

Times are changing and people are more accepting of one another in this generation.

It’s all about respecting one another’s identity.

“The gender community is really pushing using proper pronouns and even gender neutral pronouns as the transgender and nonbinary community come out more to the forefront,” Executive Director of Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance Kelly Metzgar said. “We are demanding that these changes and our lexicon be made in referring to ourselves and others.”

According to the report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, non-binary individuals make up 25-35% or more of transgender populations.

The vocabulary in conversations about gender identity is constantly changing. Some people may not be used to different gender neutral terms yet but they will continue to appear in literature.

No one should assume someone’s pronouns. It’s considerate to ask.

Some individuals may have gone by other pronouns before but now they prefer they/them. Singer-songwriter Sam Smith, was proud to announce on Twitter that their gender pronouns are now they/them.

We should always be accepting of one another and treat people with the same respect you would want from them.

When introducing yourself to others you might say your name and your preferred pronouns, that way the other person feels comfortable with sharing theirs as well. Even email signatures now commonly include preferred pronouns.

However, it’s common for people to not know how to address someone and they may accidentally be misgendering.

“It’s really not pleasant to the person who is being misgendered especially when you are trying to live your authentic life and present as you want to be presenting,” Metzgar said.

In fact, if someone does purposely use the wrong pronouns and proceeds to behave in that manner, it can be a form of sexual harassment.

Learning people’s preferred pronouns can take time and it’s OK to make mistakes as long as you’re correcting them. The language and terms can be confusing but Metzgar puts it as “reorienting our thought process.”

International Pronouns day is on October 16 so share your preferred pronouns with the world. When professors send out emails to their students before the start of a semester, they might include their pronouns and in return ask for yours.

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<a href="https://cardinalpointsonline.com/byline/dara-brandenberg/" rel="tag">Dara Brandenberg</a>