According to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Plus (LGBTQ+) Resource Center at the University of Wisconsin, a pronoun is a word that refers to either the people talking (I or you) or someone or something that is being talked about (like she, it, them, and this). Gender pronouns (he/she/they/ze etc.) specifically refer to people that you are talking about.
Center for Inclusion and Social Change at the University of Boulder Colorado
Pronouns are incredibly important in order to correctly identify someone’s gender. However, it can often be challenging to correctly assume one’s pronouns by solely looking at them. As a result, it is vital to ask someone’s pronouns and then correctly use them. This is a great way to show your respect for their gender identity. Using someone’s incorrect pronouns can often be disrespectful and make them feel invalidated, dismissed, or alienated; however, it is often all the feelings above. If you use the wrong pronoun for someone it is okay. The best thing to do is apologize immediately and then use the correct pronoun (ex: “Sorry, I meant (insert pronoun)”). Additionally, if you hear someone using the wrong pronoun for a peer, friend, family member, etc., do not ignore it. It is important to stand up and let that person know allowing they can fix their mistake in the future (ex: “Actually (insert name) uses the pronoun (insert pronoun)”). A great place to include your pronouns is in your Instagram biography, Zoom name, and email signature.