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It can be difficult to adjust to someone you love changing their pronouns, but it’s important to show respect and support.
When a loved one or friend comes forward and reintroduces themselves with new pronouns, it is often confronting on many fronts. It can be confusing and disruptive. Many people feel the actual fear of failing and getting it wrong. However, no matter how complicated it might feel for you, it is important to realize it is harder for the person who is asking you to embrace their new pronouns. That person has gone through territory we will never understand to get to that point. This is about them, not you.
Here are some tips on how to learn and use updated pronouns when someone you love has changed them:
- Listen and ask questions – Ask your loved one what pronouns they prefer and why. Listen carefully and without judgement. If you don’t understand something, it’s okay to ask questions.
- Practice – Practice using the correct pronouns in conversation with your loved one. It may feel awkward at first, but the more you practice, the easier it will become.
- Be patient with yourself – Mistakes happen, and that’s okay! If you slip up, apologize quickly and move on. Don’t beat yourself up over it; just keep practicing and learning.
- If someone corrects you, say thank you vs. I’m sorry. Apologizing might put the person who correct you in the position of needing to comfort you. Say thank you. Be genuinely grateful for the support in learning, and move on.
- Educate yourself – Learn about gender identity and pronouns so that you can better understand your loved one’s experience. There are lots of great resources available online or in books that can help you learn more about gender identity and pronouns.
- Be an ally – Show your support by being an ally for your loved one in public settings or when talking to other people about them. This could mean correcting someone who uses the wrong pronoun or simply standing up for them if they’re being treated unfairly because of their gender identity or pronoun usage.
By following these tips, you can show respect and support for your loved one as they navigate their gender identity journey. It may take time to get used to using new pronouns, but with patience and practice, you’ll be able to do it!
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