My name is Matt. I am a cisgender male, using he/him pronouns. Announcing your preferred pronouns has become a common occurrence when introducing yourself to others. While many people still use cisgender pronouns, there is a growing amount of people using different pronouns. A person who is cisgender identifies with the gender and pronouns they were born with. I think it’s really important to respect someone’s pronouns because they are just as valid as anyone else.
Recently, one of my friends told us that he identified as male, not female, and prefers to go by he/him pronouns. However, when he came out to his mom, she was immediately upset at him and refused to call him her son; to this day, she still refers to him as her daughter.
Because of situations like this, I think it is really important that we hold older generations accountable. Things like the spectrum of sexualities, genders, and pronouns are new for all of us, not just them. While many of us have been raised to be accepting of these ideas, some members of older generations view being gay as something bad or taboo. Homophobia and transphobia are still very prevalent, but people have become more accepting over time. I believe that this is done through educating others about these important topics.
This can be done many ways. We can talk about things like this to our family members over dinner, introduce our families to our LGBTQ+ friends or show them movies and tv shows featuring LGBTQ+ characters. I’ve found this to be the most effective. One of my favorite shows, One Day at a Time, features a character named Elena who identifies as gay. The show centers on a Latinx family that greatly values religion and struggles in accepting the fact that someone they love is a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Elena’s “abuelita,” or grandma, is extremely religious. While she believes being gay is a sin, she chooses to accept her granddaughter. Elena’s mother, Penelope, is fine with the LGBTQ+ community and said she would support her kids if they were a part of it, but she admits that she feels a little weird when Elena comes out to her; she’s not really sure why she feels like this, though. Both her grandma and Penelope eventually support Elena’s sexuality because they care about her. Elena’s first significant other, Syd, identifies as non-binary, meaning that they do not identify as either male or female. They also use they/them pronouns.
While this is just one example of the growing amount of shows featuring members of the LGBTQ+ community in meaningful ways, I think several lessons could be drawn from it that we all could use. For one, you can be both religious and accepting of those in the LGBTQ+ community. I wish my friend’s mom understood this, but I hope that she will come around to his identity. Another lesson that could be drawn from this show is that there are people who are non-binary or who use pronouns other than the ones they were born with. Exposure like this can help people who may be unfamiliar with these terms to understand that being non-binary, transgender, or using different pronouns doesn’t make the person any different.
In the real world, there is a high chance you will come across someone gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, transgender, non-binary, or another identity. Many people are now using different pronouns than they were born with, and it’s important to recognize that these people don’t just exist in tv or movies. If you are transgender, non-binary, or use alternative pronouns, make sure others know and respect your pronouns by correcting them when they misgender or mispronoun you. If you live in an unaccepting environment, just know that you are loved. If you are closeted, know that you are loved.
If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7/365 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also call The Trevor Project, an organization which specializes in suicide prevention and crisis intervention for LGBTQ+ youth, at 866-488-7386. You are never alone.