Pronouns are what people use to refer to others when they’re not using their name, for example “She was very excited to attend QC”. There are many types of pronouns, including they/them/theirs, he/him/his, zie/zem/zir, and she/her/hers.
You can’t tell a person’s pronouns from the way they dress or what they look like, so it’s really important not to assume anyone’s pronouns. If you don’t know what someone’s pronouns are, generally the best thing to do is use their name in the place of pronouns until you have a chance to ask them politely, for example “Excuse me, what are your pronouns?”. Most people will be happy to tell you their pronouns, though some may not want to; they could be questioning their gender, or may not want to out themselves, among other reasons.
When you do learn someone’s pronouns, make sure you respect and make an effort to use their pronouns. If you mess up, that’s okay, everyone makes mistakes. There’s no need to make a big deal of it, you can just correct yourself and move on. If someone does get upset at you for misgendering them, try not to take it too personally- many trans people get misgendered on a regular basis and it can be very disheartening.
Pronoun rounds are often used at the beginning of workshops, small meetings and some social events. Pronoun rounds are where people take turns introducing themselves and (if they feel comfortable doing so) saying what pronouns they use. For example “I’m Gabriel, my pronouns are they/ them/ theirs”. If you’re cisgender, it’s important not to say you don’t care about what pronouns are used for you, because doing this trivialises the importance pronouns have for trans and gender diverse people. It’s also generally untrue- cisgender people usually do care about the pronouns used to refer to them, they’re just used to people getting their pronouns right without having to ask or tell people what they are.
Some of the content in this section has been adapted from the 2014 QC Zine ‘Babes in the Woods’.