Pronouns are how we refer to other people. In Sri Lanka – as in many other parts of the world – pronouns generally indicate gender. Traditionally used pronouns are she/her/hers and he/him/his which indicate gender. These are commonly used by cis gender individuals (those whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with the sex assigned to them at birth). However, now, it is becoming quite common for people to use pronouns that do not indicate gender; these are known as gender-neutral pronouns. In the English language, the most common gender-neutral pronouns are they/them /theirs.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that someone’s appearance, style of dressing, name, and other external factors do not always indicate their gender or their pronouns. Therefore, we can never assume someone’s pronouns. When we meet someone for the first time, we should introduce ourselves with our pronouns and ask for theirs. When someone is referred to with the wrong pronoun, it can make them feel disrespected, invalidated, dismissed, alienated, or dysphoric, often all the above. Correctly using someone’s pronouns is one of the most basic ways to show respect for their gender identity.
To educate the LGBTIQ community, as well as its allies and the general public, EQUAL GROUND has launched a campaign on the importance of correctly using pronouns. You can see the campaign by following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.