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Timberline High School’s Student Run Publication


What's your pronoun?

A guide to understanding gender identity and why "they" matter

By Staff Writer Izayah Ramos

Every day a student is misgendered at Timberline. In a classroom, changing in the locker room, or eating in the lunchroom can create situations where a faculty member or other students have the possibility of misgendering one another in a school setting. To lower chances of being misgendered, normalizing asking for pronouns can create a safe and inclusive environment for everyone. In order to normalize asking for pronouns, it's best to understand the definition of pronouns. 

"Pronouns [are] something that you feel are best and most comfortable for people to refer to you as," sophomore Cas Moss said. In English, common pronouns include she/her, he/him, and they/them. Neopronouns and Xenopronouns can identify. Some people identify as multiple pronouns. Others choose to not use pronouns, but rather just use their name.

Pronouns are used when we don't refer to someone by their name, but rather as their gender identity. For example, "Where did Lorenzo get his hoodie from?" "His" is the correct pronoun when referring to Lorenzo. People can either identify themselves as either their sex or gender identity. Sex and gender often get mixed together. However, the two have their own definitions. 

"Sex is what you were assigned at birth, so either 'male' or 'female' while gender is what you present as and are," sophomore Lex Shiley said. Cisgender people identify with their assigned sex. People under the transgender or non-binary umbrella do not identify with their assigned sex. There are individuals who identify with the opposite sex or identify with pronouns that best describe the,. All pronouns should be respected regardless of the individual.

Nobody likes to be called the wrong pronouns. It's an important part of how people identify themselves, and if it's not recognized it sends a harmful message. "People who aren't in the trans group will not see it as important. They don't need to avoid being misgendered," said Catherine, a freshman, who is choosing not to use their real name because they have not shared their pronouns with their peers.

By providing an opportunity to share everyone's pronouns, it creates a healthy, inclusive environment to show that everyone is respected and cared for. "As a trans person, I know it makes me feel safer and more respected," said Never North, facilitator from an LGBTQ+ organization called Pizza Klatch. 

Nate Aldriela prefers any pronouns, Seren Mayol prefers he/they, Milo Lamar prefers he/zir, Lola Tena prefers he/him, and Leo Hernandez prefers they/them

MJ Dizon prefers he/she, Cas Moss prefers he/him, and Leo Hernandez prefers they/them

Others assume asking for someone's pronouns is unnecessary. "Those people will look at someone and label them as either a boy or girl based on their appearance. Like their clothes, hair or voice," Moss said. 

This is a poor way to determine someone's gender identity. Regardless of a person's physical appearance, fashion and idiosyncrasy does not determine a person's gender identity or their statement about it. Otherwise, misgendering happens which is very harmful. 

When someone calls someone else the wrong pronoun, they do not identify as is the definition of misgendering. For example, when referring to a guy as "she" or calling a woman a "he" is a form of misgendering. 

"It makes me feel unsafe. It tells me this person doesn't respect me or pronouns in general," said Catherine. For cisgender people, they can brush it off, but for people under the transgender and non-binary umbrella, it can be hurtful. It forces them into an uncomfortable position to either correct the person, or stay silent until they can leave the situation quickly. Those people treasure being called the correct pronouns, especially if they have a lack of support from family and seek that support from their peers. 

"If I misgendered someone, I would apologize, and from that point on call them by their preferred gender and work hard to not accidentally misgender them in the future," junior Vincent Haupt said. Everyone makes mistakes. If you ever misgender someone, the best action you can take is to apologize, restate your sentence to use the person's correct pronoun, and move on. That way it can ensure everyone feels safe and respected. Therefore, the first step in doing so is to ask for someone's pronouns. 

"I would politely ask someone, probably when we first meet, like 'hey, what are your pronouns so I know that I'm calling you by the pronouns you use' and I always ask them to let me know if their pronouns ever change," Shiley said. This creates a healthy way to bond with the person or group you are communicating with. Everyone and yourself get to share their preferred pronouns to make everyoe feel appreciated and comfortable.