Pronouns are Suicide Prevention
We’ve always learned about pronouns in elementary school but we’ve not always learned about what they mean outside of the grammatical context. Pronouns are words “that refers to either the people talking or someone that is being talked about (i.e. she, him, them, etc.)” Pronouns can be affirming to ones gender identity, gender expression, or can be a matter of preference. We often use pronouns based on our assumptions of another person’s gender, but this can be harmful because it can make someone feel that they have to conform or look a certain way to be a gender that they are or are not. Everyone has pronouns. Some people’s pronouns meet the societal expectations and gender norms. Some pronouns do not. This is why it’s important to respect people’s correct pronouns and demonstrate allyship if you’re someone who uses pronouns that match societal expectations or gender norms.
Some Pronouns Examples:
These pronouns listed are just a few of many different pronouns people could use to identify themselves. If only our transgender, non binary, and gender non conforming friends and family share their pronouns they can be targeted by transphobic people as well as people who choose not to respect them and their identity. By identifying your personal pronouns in a work setting, school setting, or in social settings it’s a great demonstration of allyship and creates a safer and more comfortable world for our transgender, non binary, and gender non conforming friends and family. We refer to these as “personal” pronouns, but we don’t mean these are necessarily private information, most of the time they are not, we just mean that these are pronouns referring to a unique and individual person. If cisgender people (people born as the gender they identify as) increased participation in sharing their pronouns it would help create a safer world.
What if I don’t understand someone else’s pronouns?
It’s not your place to need to understand someone else’s pronouns or make judgments about them. No one owes anyone else an explanation about their pronouns and why they’ve chosen them. It may feel inconvenient to learn someone’s new pronouns especially your own child, but be patient and demonstrate support in trying and eventually you’ll get it right consistently. The support you provide by respecting pronouns outweighs any inconvenience of learning new pronouns.
Respecting a person’s pronouns and name whether a child or adult creates a safer and more comfortable environment by affirming who they are as people as well as impacting positive well being and reducing their risk of suicide. “Transgender and nonbinary youth attempt suicide less when their pronouns are respected and they’re allowed to change their name and/or gender marker on legal documents, according to new research by” The Trevor project. This survey also found that transgender and non binary youth who were given the opportunity to change their name and/or gender marker on legal documents had lower rates of attempting suicide. In addition, “Transgender and nonbinary youth who report having their pronouns respected by all or most of the people in their lives attempted suicide at half the rate of those who did not have their pronouns respected” per The Trevor Project. This is important because nearly 15% of LGBTQ individuals attempted suicide in the past twelve months, including more than 1 in 5 transgender and nonbinary youth. These statistics highlight the importance of being an ally and a support to those in our lives whether it be our families, our coworkers, our kids, or classmates. by respecting someone’s name and pronouns you can literally decrease the chance that they would want to die and intentionally changing a few words in conversation sounds like a small price to pay for reminding someone that you want them to be here.
We so easily respect someone’s nickname, last name change, or using the correct pronouns for a pet and it’s time that we bring that same energy to our family and friends who want us to respect their name and pronouns. If you’re wondering how to put all that we’ve learned today about pronouns into practice follow this short list from Ginny at NAMI Virginia.
How to Be an Ally from Ginny at NAMI Virginia
- Use someone’s correct pronouns. When someone shares their pronouns, it’s important to use those when referring to them!
- When you are unsure of someone’s pronouns, try to use their name or use they/them pronouns when referring to them.
- Introduce yourself with your pronouns. For example, “Hi! I’m Ginny and my pronouns are They/Them.” If you would like to ask someone else, make sure you share your pronouns first “Hi, I’m Ginny and my pronouns are They/Them. How should I refer to you?”
- You may make mistakes. MyPronouns.org has a wonderful guide for different scenarios that offer suggestions on how to correct yourself. (link included under sources and resources)
If you, someone you love, or someone you know has shared with you their pronouns and you weren’t understanding “why it mattered” or “what was the big deal”, I hope this blog and the following resources are helpful to you. If you or anyone you know is exploring their personal gender identity and want to talk with someone or receive additional support in this journey you don’t have to do it alone and there are people here to help and support you along the way. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced mental health counselors.
Sources & Resources:
Other pronoun examples to know:
https://www.mamadragons.org/ is an organization based out of Utah that empowers mothers of LGBTQ children with educational programs and community support.
https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/05/20/metro/new-study-shows-transgender-nonbinary-youth-attempt-suicide-less-when-allowed-change-name-gender-marker/ new study shows transgender and nonbinary youth attempt suicide less when allowed to change name, gender marker by Emily Sweeney 5/20/21
https://www.thetrevorproject.org/research-briefs/pronouns-usage-among-lgbtq-youth/ the Trevor project is a nonprofit organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention to the LGBTQ community youth.
https://www.mypronouns.org/ this website includes comments questions about pronouns, answers to them, and other resources to learn more about pronouns.