A Basic Education On Preferred Pronouns by Iris Chiu
An important practice that has become more and more widely recognized and implemented in the past few years is using the correct pronouns when addressing people. Preferred gender pronouns are a set of subject, object, and possessive pronouns of a gender (or not) that one would like others to use when referring or addressing them: for example, “she, her, hers”, “he, him, his”, and “they, them, theirs”.
For the majority of people, going off of appearance or other surface-level perceptions such as tone of voice or hair length is usually what is used to assign a gender to a person. But gender is a spectrum that is far more wide and encompassing than these initial features.
Using the correct gender pronouns when addressing anyone is respectful and important. Don’t be afraid to ask someone what they identify as before starting a conversation! In fact, that is what should be done to avoid any confusion or turbulence.
If you have accidentally misgendered someone, whether initially or after you’ve already met, it’s important to immediately apologize and recognize your fault, then make a conscious effort to remember their correct pronouns for future interactions. Try not to dwell on the accident for too long, as this can make the person you’ve misgendered uncomfortable.