He/Him, She/Her, They/Them: Significance of pronouns for different genders

Ishika Aggarwal
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No one is subjected to be tagged to a pronoun. A take on why Pronoun matters?




Simply to put, the term pronoun can be defined as “a word that can function as a noun phrase, that refers either to the participants in the discourse or to someone mentioned elsewhere in the discourse”. In general, in the context of humans, they are used in replacement to a person’s name and the fact is that these pronouns are also a slave of the two gender binaries of the society. The pronouns we often use to represent a person are often confined to he/him for males and she/her for females. But what about the people who don’t identify to any of these two genders, and for those, for whom, the gender identity is not very defined. Are we imposing our the idea of their gender to represent them and call them with the same old ‘he/him’ and ‘she/her’?  Well, now that we have in the discourse, the idea of providing representation to other genders, we definitely need to know what all pronouns rightly represent ‘them’. Them, right! That’s the pronoun for them – THEY/ THEM.

Well, if you are wondering, why would the use of a particular pronoun upset anyone, the answer to it is simple, it is diminishing space for self-identity. Imagine someone calling you with a name that doesn’t belong to you or adjectives with which you don’t find yourself. How will you feel? Will that affect you. It will! Same is with the LGBTQI+ representation.

Discussing the significance of using the right pronouns for different genders, and how it empowers them, Aditi Mishra, whose preferred pronouns are ‘she/they’ said “The pronouns he/she are already designated to historically prevalent binary genders as masculine and feminine, male and female and man and woman. But with more acceptance of the non-binary gender spectrum around the world, the pronouns he/she have been used more inclusively. They don’t represent a state of extremity and stereotypical roles but that a person with whatever pronoun can represent anything from binaries to non-binaries. Within the transgender community, pronouns normalize the negation of stereotyped manliness and femininity.

 

Read more: LGBTQ Community in India: Stories of Hope & Strength

lgbt community in india

According to LGBT Life Center, the gender-specific pronouns for queer,  non-binary, and transgender people, gender non-conforming, these pronouns may not fit and are reasons for their discomfort and anxiety. Of course, the very idea of imposing and appropriating their identity is a thing that can affect them in ways we might not realize. “According to a recent study, in transgender youth, using correct pronouns and names reduces depression and risks for suicide.”

With increasing discussion around the inclusion of the queer, non-binary, trans and gender non-conforming, the usage of the right pronouns is not just a way that can give then the required opportunity of self-representation but is also necessary to respect their inclusion. The usage of the non-gendered pronouns ensures the normalization and negation of manliness and femininity, as told by Aditi which is absolutely a way to remove this stereotyping and appropriating genders.

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