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Understanding and Using Personal Pronouns

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness and acceptance of gender diversity and the emergence of new pronouns. Pronouns are an essential part of language and serve as a way for individuals to refer to themselves and others. In everyday business, we must understand and respect the various commonly used personal pronouns.

Pronouns are words used to refer to someone or something without using their name. Traditional English pronouns include “he,” “she,” “him,” and “her.” These pronouns refer to people who identify as male or female, respectively. However, as our understanding of gender and sexuality expands, so does the need for new pronouns that reflect the diverse identities of people.

The most commonly used new pronouns are “they/them,” which have been used for a long time in English. “They/them” are now also being used as singular pronouns to refer to people who identify as non-binary or genderqueer. Non-binary refers to individuals who do not identify as exclusively male or female, while genderqueer refers to a person whose gender identity cannot be categorized as solely male or female (Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

Another new pronoun is “ze/hir,” which are gender-neutral pronouns that some non-binary individuals prefer. These pronouns are not as widely used as “they/them,” but we should still recognize and respect them. Note: “ze” is pronounced “zee,” and “hir” rhymes with “here.”

Some people use pronouns that reflect their gender identity, such as “he/him” or “she/her,” but also “they/them,” “she/they,” they/he,” “ze/she,” or “hir/him.” This is known as using “multiple pronouns,” and it acknowledges that gender is not a fixed or binary concept, that the person doesn’t define their gender in a single word. When someone identifies with multiple pronouns, remember, it is not “or,” it is “and.”

It's essential to note that using someone's correct pronouns is crucial to respecting their identity and creating a safe and inclusive environment for everyone. Refusing to use someone's preferred pronouns is disrespectful and can cause harm and distress to the person.

It may take some time and effort to get used to using new pronouns, but it's worth the effort to make everyone feel comfortable and accepted. If you're unsure what pronouns someone prefers, the best thing to do is ask them politely. Remember, it's okay to make mistakes, but what matters is that you're trying to be respectful and inclusive.

Understanding and respecting new pronouns is essential to creating a more accepting and inclusive society. By using the correct pronouns, you can support the diverse identities of all individuals and create a safe and welcoming environment for everyone. As small business owners, it behooves us to do our part to embrace gender diversity and make the world a better place for everyone.

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