According to Merriam-Webster the definition of a pronoun is: any of a small set of words in a language that are used as substitutes for nouns or noun phrases and whose referents are named or understood in the context. Okay well what does that mean? It basically means that pronouns are a way people can identify themselves without using their name. She/her/hers and He/him/his are the common pronouns used for people who identify as male or female. However, it is 2018 and if you haven't heard that people can identify as a different gender or no gender at all-where have you been?
Gender (WHICH IS DIFFERENT THAN SEXUALITY-look it up) is a very complicated topic and if you were hoping for an article that would explain it, I'm sorry to disappoint. What this article is for is to explain what pronouns are, how important they are to an individual, and why they matter.
If you are born with female anatomy, identify as a female, and prefer the pronouns she/her/hers and don't plan on changing that, you're lucky. You fit into the boxes that society has made and you don't have to worry about grey area. But there are people who live their entire life in the grey area or are born in the wrong box completely. AND THATS OKAY. Society has made two genders but surprise! There are more than two genders(its a spectrum-again, look it up) and people can identify anywhere on the spectrum or not on the spectrum at all. But like I said, I am not here to give you a lesson on gender. I am here to talk about pronouns-the point of pride for those who live in the grey area or those who were born in the wrong box.
So lets say you are that lucky girl born with female anatomy, identify as a female, and prefer the pronouns she/her/hers and don't plan on changing that...and people you don't know and probably people you do know insist on using he/him/his pronouns for you? How would that make you feel? Would you question your gender or femininity? What would happen to your self confidence? Well there are people who have to worry about these things every day of their life.
Now lets say you don't identify as male or female. You might identify as gender fluid, non-binary, gender queer, omnigender, or another gender neutral title(and again, look it up). Individuals who identify as this for the most part prefer they/them/theirs, ze/zir/zirs, or whatever else they'd like. One second rant: people are allowed to identify as whatever they'd like and they are allowed to prefer whatever pronouns they want and it doesn't affect your life in any way so you literally shouldn't have an opinion about it. If you are someone who doesn't identify as male or female, your pronouns are everything. They describe who you are. Your pronouns are how you showcase yourself to the world. And for those who live outside of societies boxes, pronouns are your way of happily expressing yourself.
Now lets say you identify as a male but you have female anatomy, your parents pushed the female gender on you, and maybe up until a certain point you identified as a female as well. This person, who has complete freedom to take their time discovering or rediscovering who they are, might identify as transgender. It is 2018, you really should know what transgender means. But if you don't, pretty please look it up! Another one second rant: again, people are allowed to identify as whatever they'd like and if you've never felt trapped in your own body then you have no right to judge or question the way someone identifies and surprise! It doesn't affect your life in any way so you literally shouldn't have an opinion about it.
Individuals who are trans are going through one of the most difficult transitions anyone could ever go through. But they are excited! They are happy, proud, and all the hardships are worth it because they are finally able to live their life like the person they've always been. Someone who is trans can go on hormones, change their hair, buy a new wardrobe, and can feel and look great! But that means nothing if you use the wrong pronoun for them. It is an adjustment if you're used to calling them one thing and then you have to change, but it is possible and I promise it means more to them than you know.
Yes, it is hard. It is hard to break the habit of saying 'she' and start saying 'he.' It is hard to remember to say 'they.' It is hard, we all know it. But guess what's harder? Living your life, trying to be happy, and trying to be who you are when society tells you not to. That's hard. Someone questioning if you're in the right bathroom. That's hard. Expressing yourself and being confident and then people taking all that away by purposely calling you the wrong thing. That's hard. No one is asking for perfection. No one is saying that you can't make mistakes. All I ask is that you try. Educate yourself. Start a dialogue. Because this life is hard enough, the least you could do is use someone's preferred pronouns.