Why is it important to ask for and respect people’s Personal Gender Pronouns (PGP)?

  • You can’t always know someone’s PGP by looking at them.
  • Asking and correctly using someone’s pronoun(s) is one of the most basic ways to show your respect for their gender identity.

Some people may consider this practice silly or over-sensitive, perhaps too “politically correct” for their taste.

If so, this is an opportunity to reflect on privilege.

Odds are you are accustomed to being seen for your gender identity and don’t have the concern that someone will wrongly project their ideas about gender onto you. It’s common for people with privilege to believe that their experiences are universal and not be aware that others have very different experiences.

Not everyone has the luxury of being “seen” or acknowledged accurately. This contributes to a feeling that we don’t belong and a sense of alienation and “wrongness.”

Rather than being a meaningless exercise in identity politics, this is an acknowledgement of a person’s innermost identity, conferring respect and dignity. It is your opportunity to help others feel seen, to know that who they are matters, and to widen the circle of belonging. It also helps remind all of us that gender is a social construct, which can help lighten the pressure we all feel to gender conform and measure up to gendered ideals like beauty standards.

The benefit is far greater than merely showing kindness and respect: your world will be much richer for it.

adapted from Radical Belonging: How to Survive and Thrive in an Unjust World (While Transforming it for the Better), by Lindo Bacon.

© copyright Lindo Bacon 2020

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