Celebrating Pride Month: The Importance of Using Personal Pronouns

Throughout June, we are celebrating Pride Month at DHG! Our PRIDE+ Common Interest Group (CIG) planned a robust and exciting month of activities, including a My LGBTQ+ Experience session to share authentic and real perspectives of DHG teammates to help us connect and learn together.

Alanna Carvalho, a consultant in our Healthcare Consulting Practice, joins the Life at DHG Podcast to discuss a very important and, often, sensitive topic – using personal pronouns correctly to respect gender identity. By definition, pronouns are words that we use to refer to someone in the third person, such as he, she or them. In the sense of gender identity, pronouns are a testament that people make about who they are and their authentic selves. Alanna helps answer some frequently asked questions to help us better use and understand personal pronouns:

How do I know what pronouns to use? The best way is to make it a habit to introduce yourself with pronouns. This gives someone the space to share without directly asking or singling someone out. Everyone has a pronoun so the more we normalize this practice, the better.

What do I do if I use the wrong pronoun? As this is something fairly new to many people and can be tricky, start by understanding at some point you will use the wrong pronoun. When you make a mistake, it is good to recognize the mistake, understand the harm that comes from this and correct yourself. Try to not make it a big deal but the effort to correct yourself and apologize will show your good intent.

What else is language gendered beyond pronouns? People are frequently misgendered due the nature of our language – many things are naturally gendered without bad intent. It takes effort to recognize everyday expressions and words that are gendered, such as businessman or waitress.

Do you have any tips to help our Allies?

  1. Start by stating your pronouns when you introduce yourself. Allies are really important advocates and help to normalize these situations.
  2. Incorporate genderless language into your daily vernacular. Use “they” for hypothetical situations and avoid using gendered words, such as sir and ma’am.
  3. Be proactive with your own research and education. Educating yourself on these topics is a personal journey and it should not be the responsibility of the LGBTQ+ community to educate everyone. I really encourage the site as a resource. The site explains what pronouns are, what to do when you make mistakes and more.

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