Being a pro at pronouns


Photo credit: Gabbi Bielak

By Gabbi Bielak, Section Editor

While many of us don’t even notice them within our sentences, pronouns are the small parts of speech used to address ourselves and others on a daily basis. “She was so good,” or “He is mean,” are familiar uses of pronouns that everyone has heard. However, pronouns are becoming much more talked about as people, specifically students, are growing more comfortable with using them more fluidly.

Despite this increasing normalization, the issue of misgendering remains. For example, on the first day of school, it’s common for new people to mistake someone’s pronouns. Maybe a teacher taking attendance says, “Is Sam here? Does anyone see her?” This may send shivers down Sam’s spine. They use they/them pronouns. Now, Sam must make the decision to correct the teacher in front of the class— which may make them uncomfortable— or Sam can spend the year cringing every time they are misgendered. 

This goes on much more than you may think. In our society, gender assumptions always resort to the confining she/her or he/him, never they/them, leaving no room for those who use neither or both. This is a damaging societal normality because it teaches kids from a young age that anything other than that is strange, or wrong. 

Now, let’s say Sam corrected their teacher, and from that point onward, they were addressed with their correct pronouns. On their first creative writing assignment they created a character named Blake. They are non-binary and use they/them. Sam may very well fail their assignment because the MLA format does not allow the use of they/them when referring to one person. 

This continues the damaging portrayal of non-cisgender identities as fundamentally wrong. We as a society need to work harder to normalize these things. Pronouns are used so often, and although they aren’t important to everybody, we all need to be conscientious of those who hold value in their peers using them correctly and respect the larger implications of them within their own identity.

Normalizing pronouns is the first step. When meeting new people, ask their name and preferred pronouns. This mitigates misgendered and allows people to remain comfortable with their pronouns. Additionally, we can use social media to introduce new habits. Put your pronouns in your Instagram bio, your Snapchat name, your Facebook wall and anywhere else that lets new people know what makes you comfortable. 

At the higher level, we need to change the MLA format so they/them is no longer incorrect. All this does is tell the young student that their identity is wrong. We want to make the classroom a place where every student is comfortable, and happy. To reach this goal, we must work together to develop these new habits that will normalize pronouns in everyday language.