“Hello, my name is Matthew French and I go by They/He pronouns.”
I say this statement a lot. Anytime there is someone I’m meeting for the first time (in person or virtual), I introduce myself with my pronouns. The reactions vary. Some people say their pronouns back to me, which has more than once helped me feel more at ease and others sometimes are unsure what to do, which for me is okay and I see as an educational moment! (Hang in there until the end and I’ll offer some pronoun tips for you in the workplace.)
Pronouns have been an evolving piece of my own identity over the past few years. I never liked the vibes of he/him or she/her or they/their. It always felt like I was being forced to release parts of myself that did not fit perfectly into one of those categories. As my education in the space grew and my life experiences gave me courage, I decided he/they pronouns fit the view of myself.
But what is the point with using he/they? Why not just use one or the other? For myself it is about a few things. First, I love how I have always been a mixture of traditionally masculine and feminine attributes. Using He/They pronouns is really me claiming those parts of myself and allowing me to communicate those pieces of my identity to others in my life.
Two, gender is a construct and it annoys me. We each can live our own truth around gender and play with the full crayon box of life! I’m gonna say it now for everyone who hasn’t worn a pair of high heels to clean in, do it. With music on.
Lastly, I feel comfortable with They/He, it makes feel truly seen and allows me to be more authentic. I have luckily had my work spaces be very welcoming of my pronouns and have allowed me to share them openly with no weird vibes to be found.
The point is, on this International Pronouns Day, respect others and show that you see them for who they are. Use their pronouns and give them a smile.
Need some tips for the workplace? Here you go!
- Add your pronouns to your Slack, Zoom and e-mail signature. This allows others to know your pronouns, but can also be a signal to others that you are an ally.
- Check your internal HR systems: Are there spaces to add in gender identity or pronouns? Here at TextNow there are and I was happy to list my pronouns and my gender identity as genderqueer, which was the first time I was ever offered the option to share that piece of myself with a company’s internal HR system.
- Practice your pronoun introduction with friends and family. You will get better at using your pronouns and others in your life will also be able to learn about their own pronouns.
Check out more tips at International Pronouns Day.