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  • Joshua Dantzler (he/him)

Leading with Pronouns

When we arrive in a new space, or an old one for that matter, we want to be accepted and respected. When we are both accepted and respected, we feel good, and can show up as our full selves. We become included. One of the easiest ways for people to be affirmed, in the spaces we work, reside, and learn is to have our pronouns acknowledged and used correctly. 

Pronouns are the identifiers that allow folks to know how we like to be addressed (he, she, him, her, they, them to name a few). In inviting people to share the pronouns that they identify with, we began to separate the historical combination of "gender" and "sex." We take away the emphasis of man and woman, and we welcome the diversity of gender identities and expressions. 

While it might seem that you can assume someone's pronouns or it might not be a big deal, it is the exact opposite. Assumptions about the way that folks want to be described can inadvertently dismiss an important piece of who they are. Acts of assumption and dismissal add to the violence and oppression that folks who are often misgendered face daily. It creates and environment where some thrive, and some hide.

So, it’s simple - you can lead by example and make space for multiple gender identities and expressions to be included. You can be the first to include your pronouns in introductions, email signatures, or on name tags and thus offer others the opportunity to share theirs too. Remember, it's important to leave space for those who opt out of sharing as a means of self-protection. Bravery often starts with an introduction. You can lead your organization, school, business or community in creating brave spaces for everyone and it can start with a simple introduction!

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