How Using Your Pronouns Helps Create a Safe Space for Others

By: Jami Hill-Smith, Resident in Counseling

“Hi, my name is Jami and I use she/her/hers pronouns.” 

Not going to lie — it was incredibly awkward the first time I said this out loud. Honestly, as a cisgender (a person whose sense of personal identity and gender correspond with their birth sex) female, it felt unnecessary for me to state my pronouns. But, you know what? Stating my pronouns isn’t about my awkward feelings; it is about creating a safer and more comfortable space for everyone in the room. Basically, it helps normalize introductions that include pronouns. When I introduce myself at groups, workshops, or meetings, I try to remember to say my pronouns. I say “try”, because I don’t always remember. But like anything I do often, it is becoming more of a habit. If this all sounds a bit overwhelming, a great place to start is writing your pronouns on name tags. 

Let me give you a real life example of how this works. 

While attending an event mixed with teens and adult-parents, my daughter and I wrote our pronouns on our name tags. Several teens came up to my daughter and thanked her for putting her pronouns on her name badge. Neither teen identified as cisgender, but both were not totally comfortable listing their preferred pronouns. However, both quickly added “they/them/theirs” and “he/him/his” to their name badges after seeing someone else in the room doing so. When cisgender people use preferred pronouns on name badges, social media, and email signatures, it opens doors for non-cisgender folx (a term used to intentionally show inclusion of gender variant identities) to feel more comfortable. To feel safe. To recognize the allies in the room. To know they are not alone. 

Why should you consider using your pronouns even if you are cisgender? 

● When transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming folx see and hear others using pronouns, everyone feels more comfortable using them. It normalizes the usage and minimizes the awkwardness. 

● No matter your gender or presentation, when you list your pronouns, you are also communicating the very important message, “I’m an ally”. 

● Listing your pronouns takes out the judgment, the guessing, and the wonder of knowing a person’s gender. It is an easy way to let people know that you do not assume anyone’s gender. 

Here are some examples of where you can use your pronouns.

  • Your email signature. 

Jami Hill-Smith, MS, NCC

Resident in Counseling & National Certified Counselor 

pronouns: she/her/hers

  • Your social media bios on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. 

Jami Hill-Smith — Pronouns: she/her. Counselor in residency, Sunstone Counseling, Falls Church, VA. Adults & Adolescents. LGBTQ+, gender identity, substance abuse… 

  • Your business card, along with your name and contact information. 

Jami Hill-Smith | she/her | jami@sunstonecounselors.com 

  • Introductions at a meeting or workshop, if they say, “Go around and say your names.” They don’t have to invite you to include your pronoun in your intro in order to include it! Example: “I’m Jami, and I use she/her pronouns.” 

These are all fairly easy and passive ways more people can communicate support to the transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming community. When cisgender individuals use pronouns, it can make a big difference in creating spaces where more people feel safe. Can you think of other places and ways to use your pronouns to help normalize pronoun usage? Leave them in the comments.