Perhaps you first noticed it next to someone’s name in an email signature or on a Zoom call—the addition of pronouns like she/her, he/him, or they/them. Sharing your preferred pronouns and using someone else’s pronouns are simple and impactful ways to be an LGBTQIA+ ally. Pronouns are how we talk about someone when we are not using their name. We use pronouns all the time.
Why are pronouns so important within the LGBTQIA+ community? Not everyone falls neatly into the gender category they were assigned at birth: male or female. The LGBTQIA+ community often faces stereotyped assumptions, oppression, bias, and even hatred based on how we look, how we identify ourselves, or who we love.
With so much negativity from the world, members of the LGBTQIA+ community have to cultivate a strong inner awareness of our innate wholeness, value, and worth. Just like our names, our preferred pronouns are personal. The focus that is currently placed on pronouns invites us all to look more deeply than outer appearances. Using pronouns that best describe gender identity is an invitation for us all to let go of our assumptions and be more open and curious about each other.
Respect and inclusion are central to the spiritual principles taught in Unity. We know that we are each a unique, creative expression of the Divine. Our spiritual practices, including meditation and affirmative prayer, offer a foundation for each of us to touch our most authentic self and live, choose, and create from that awareness. Gender identity is one avenue of expression for our divinity. Respecting, supporting, and honoring the way someone understands themselves is to respect, support, and honor their divinity.
By sharing your own pronouns, regardless of identity, you are saying you are an ally. It is a simple but meaningful way to let the LGBTQIA+ community feel included and welcomed. Often those in the LGBTQIA+ community who identify as genderqueer, gender-fluid, or nonbinary do not feel safe.
A general rule of thumb is not to ask someone for their pronouns directly. Instead, offer your pronouns when you introduce yourself. This makes space for others to share if they wish while not forcing anything. Practice introducing yourself with your pronouns consistently, not just when someone “looks” LGBTQIA+.
If this all feels complex, it is! Our sense of identity is complex. Unity believes in the evolution of consciousness—we are always growing and expanding our understanding of ourselves and the world. Pronouns are just one way that we are all invited to grow.
Take time to educate yourself on why pronouns are so important. There are many resources available. Gender Spectrum has a very informative website. You can also find information at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation.