Why it’s important to ask for pronouns


Kassem Ossman

Gender can be confusing but understanding what it means is the first step to acceptance.

In the year of 2020, gender has become a little confusing for some to understand. Gender is a fluid movement with pronouns from he/him to she/her and even they/them, these can be pretty confusing to understand, so I’m here to help.

When I was around 10 years old, my aunt told me he wanted to be my uncle. He said that he was more comfortable with using the he/him pronouns and that he wanted to be comfortable in his own skin. Being younger, I had a lot of questions about it, but I wasn’t knowledgeable enough to have a steady conversation with him.

A couple of years later, he told me to watch an episode of “Bill Nye Saves the World” which was a crash course of gender and sexuality. In the episode, Bill Nye — the Science Guy says that gender identity and gender expression is a spectrum.

The spectrum ranges from the left being male and the right being female and in the middle is non-binary, which means non-conforming to either gender, usually using they/them pronouns. This range really goes with gender identity and gender expression. For example, I am more on the left for gender identity but my gender expression tends to lean more on the middle/ left-leaning, meaning I go by He/him pronouns but like to wear what society thinks of as “feminine” clothing, ranging from skirts to a lighter pattern button-up.

This stuff can be confusing, but it boils down to — not everyone is what they look like. Don’t make assumptions off of what someone is wearing or how they talk. But now you may be asking “Kassem how do I not make someone feel bad but also use their pronouns?”

It may seem a little weird at first, but ask someone what their pronouns are. It is so simple and can really change someone’s day. Displaying your pronouns is also something that many people are doing to show that they understand gender and that it’s not always what we appear to look like.

I remember a couple of years ago I would be flattered for someone misgendering me but that was really feminine gay Kassem, if I was trans or non-binary and wanted to use different pronouns from what others may assume off of one look, I would feel hurt and lost like I didn’t belong.

So ask people what their pronouns are, say or display your pronouns to give people the relief of being safe to show theirs and be understanding that gender is confusing and a person should not be uncomfortable or insecure to show off their own gender identity.