Yesterday, Oct. 17, marked the first International Pronouns Day.
International Pronouns Day was created to decrease LGBTQ invisibility, particularly among people who identify as transgender or non-gender binary. One of the minds behind creating the holiday and Director of Ithaca College’s Center for LGBT Education, Outreach and Services, Luca Maurer, said that International Pronouns Day “seeks to make asking, sharing and respecting personal pronouns commonplace,” according to an article Maurer wrote for Advocate.com.
Many studies of members of the LGBT community have found that rates of mental health issues and suicide attempts are higher among LGBT youth. Specifically, “The Journal of Adolescent Health,” Dr. Stephen Russell and researchers from the University of Texas at Austin “found that chosen name use is linked to reduced depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation and suicidal behavior among transgender youth,” according to Maurer.
“This isn’t about being politically correct, or one-sided,” Maurer wrote, “It’s real, tangible suicide prevention for our youth, and actively extending safety to everyone.”
Actively asking for and using people’s correct pronouns also increases transgender and non-binary visibility, which is crucial to breaking down stigmatization and marginalization, according to Maurer.
The holiday was created by members of the Consortium of Higher Education Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Professionals, according to Maurer. The group began mobilizing after Genny Beemyn, a professor at University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Shige Sakurai, a professor at University of Maryland, informed the group of their idea for an International Pronouns Day Initiative, according to Maurer.
Hannah Meyers, a seventh-semester psychology major, spoke more about why International Pronouns Day is important.
“I think that it’s important mostly because there are so many people who go out into the world and they’re misgendered every single day,” Myers said. “I think that if there is a day we can shine a light on that and make sure that people are being gendered the right way, especially when they go out in public spaces. I think that that’s really important to everybody, not just trans-people, not just non-binary people.”
Meyers also emphasized the important role that pronouns play in educating LGBTQ allies. If members outside of the LGBT community don’t understand pronouns, why they are used and why they’re important then “it’s hard to respect how people want to be addressed and it’s hard to know why you’re using the pronouns in the first place,” Meyers said.
Education is also important because “it expands our circle,” Meyers said. “I don’t think that the LGBTQ community is just for queer folks; it should also be a place for allies. I think that that’s the way we grow and gain presence in society is by welcoming allies into our community and educating them in how to be a good ally.”
Meyers emphasized that the Rainbow Center is one of the spaces where LGBT students and allies can learn and support one another. It provides a space for allies to check their privilege and realize that as a cisgender heterosexual person, they don’t have to think as much about strict gender roles and be reminded that these roles weren’t made for them.
“I think there’s just a lot to be learned from communities that you don’t belong to because I (think) we’re scared of what we don’t know,” Meyers said. “I think people who don’t know the details behind what goes on in our community and the history behind our community (would benefit from) learning a bit about it and it would make them actually want to be around the community more.”
The best way to celebrate International Pronouns Day is not by just limiting it to Oct. 17, but rather by integrating it into your day-to-day interactions.
Alexis Taylor is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.