The beginning of my email signature reads like this:

Photo: Laura Comino

I am cisgender. I have never had anyone question my femininity when looking at me or my name. I have never been called by the wrong pronouns, yet still include my own in my emails and just about every one of my social media accounts, as well as announce them in every possible way when meeting new people.

What are personal pronouns?

The hyperlink in my email signature is available here. If you are unaware of what personal pronouns are, that is a great resource to check out. In brief, personal pronouns are one’s preferred pronouns, or what they would rather be called in lieu of their name. If someone were referring to you in third person, your preferred pronoun would be what you would like them to refer you as (for example: “is this her book? his book? their book?”).

The most common preferred pronouns are she/her/hers, he/him/his, and they/their/theirs. More uncommon, yet still perfectly valid, are personal pronouns such as ze/zir/zirs or xe/xir/xirs. The latter are often used by people who feel as if the more common pronouns do not clearly encompass their gender identity. The amazing thing about personal pronouns, however, is that you are absolutely able to create your own. If none of the standard ones dictated by society fit you, you are able to ask to be called whatever you want. Personal pronouns quite literally replace your name (for example: “is this Laura’s?” “yes, it’s hers“), so you are able to make them whatever you wish.

Photo: Queer Cafe

Why cis people should talk about their pronouns

People assume, as it is human to do so. Odds are, if you look feminine, people will automatically assume that your pronouns are the societally feminine she/her/hers. I often do not have to state my pronouns firsthand when meeting new people, as they will make the assumption that I must use by she/her/hers, as I look and am a woman.

However, for many transgender and even many cisgender people, their assumed pronouns do not match their actual pronouns. Pronouns have little to do with gender at times, as even people who might identify as a certain gender go by another gender’s assumed pronouns, simply because they feel as those are the pronouns that best fit them. In short, you can absolutely be a girl and go by “he/him/his” if those pronouns make you feel the best. It is all about what makes you feel most comfortable. Gender is fluid, and you should be referred to in the way that makes you feel most you.

Photo: ADL

Because of the fact that personal pronouns are such a taboo, it is important for people to make their pronouns known, especially for those whose pronouns match what most people would assume. For those of us who do not have to go through the struggle of being called by the wrong pronouns or having to explain their pronoun choice, like myself, advocating for the validity and normality of making your pronoun preferences known is critical.

If everyone had their pronouns on their social media, signatures and whatever other online presence, in addition to in everyday conversations, a significant burden would be lifted off of people whose pronouns are constantly misinterpreted or misused. For that, especially if you are cisgender and have never had to worry about people using the wrong pronouns when referring to you, you should join me in adding your pronouns to your email signature and social media today!

Photo: BBC

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