International Pronouns Day occurs annually on the third Wednesday of October.
Referring to people by the pronouns that they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender-nonconforming people.
Knowing how to use gender neutral pronouns will help avoid any misgendering, and will go a long way towards creating warmer, more inclusive spaces (whether it be at work, at home, or in social settings), where everyone feels safe and able to be themselves.
Recent studies found that:
- Using gender neutral pronouns reduced those psychological biases that have traditionally favored cisgender men, and increased positive attitudes towards women and the 2SLGBTQAI+ community.
- Millennials are more than twice as likely to identify as 2SLGBTQAI+ (at a rate of 20 percent) than previous generations.
- 56 percent of Generation Z respondents know someone who uses gender neutral pronouns—a significant increase from previous generations.
How CHV Supports 2SLGBTQAI+ Youth
“In my time as a youth worker, and now as the Manager of the Rights of Passage program [JM1] [SB2] and Chair of the Rainbow Advisory Committee, I have observed that the vast majority of 2SLGBTQAI+ youth end up on the street (and, hence, in our programs) because they’ve been rejected by their families and communities. When 2SLGBTQAI+ youth come to Covenant House, they may need a place to stay or a hot meal, but they’re ultimately seeking a sense of belonging. They, like everyone, need a place to be safe and be seen and accepted [JM3] exactly as they are, in order to flourish.”
- Colin, Rights of Passage Manager/Chair of the Rainbow Advisory Committee at CHV
Every young person who comes to Covenant House Vancouver does so for complex and highly personal reasons, which is why we’ve adopted a one-size-fits-one style of personalized care. That said, some populations are grossly overrepresented, both on the streets of Vancouver, and in our care. The 2SLGBTQAI+ community is one of those groups. These youth have often been rejected by their communities simply because they’ve taken the courageous step to show up in the world exactly as they are.
The trauma from this kind of rejection, coupled with the unique challenges of being precariously housed or without a home, leaves youth in this community vulnerable and in need of specific supports. Through a variety of therapeutic and extra-curricular services and activities, we strive to show these young people that they are safe – and loved – exactly as they are.
Some of the ways that CHV supports 2SLGBTQAI+ Youth are:
- The Rainbow Advisory Committee — comprised of 2SLGBTQAI+ staff from various roles and departments at CHV who act as an advisory group to management and exists to ensure that youth from the 2SLGBTQAI+ population are being served well by the agency
- Art Therapy — has been shown to reduce the impacts of trauma and help young people process complex experiences
- Partnership with Qmunity — a drop-in resource centre that provides specific services for the 2SLGBTQAI+ population
- Participation in Pride
- Making Space to be Seen, Heard, and Celebrated — programming, events, and other supports specific to 2SLGBTQAI+ youth
How Can I Learn More About Pronouns?
I’m glad you asked!
Pronouns.org is a wonderful website for information. Here, they will answer questions for you, such as:
- What are personal pronouns and why do they matter?
- How do I use personal pronouns?
- what if someone makes a mistake and mispronouns someone else?
- How do I share my personal pronouns?
- How do I ask someone their personal pronouns?
- How do I use gender inclusive language?
- What additional resources and links can help me?
Remember: It’s okay to be confused about pronouns. If you’re not sure what pronouns someone uses, just ask them. Try not to make assumptions about a person’s gender.