By: Grant E. Loveless
What Does LGBTQIA2+ Mean & Its Importance?
The LGBTQIA2+ community, also known as the Rainbow community, are people who are allied with the LGBTQIA2+ movement or identify as an lesbian, gay, transgender, etc. People from the LGBTQIA2+ community come in from all walks of life and include people of all races and ethnicities, all ages, all socioeconomic statuses, and from all parts of the country. To break it down some more, LGBTQIA2+ is an abbreviation that stands for: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or sometimes questioning), intersexual, asexual and two-spirited. The plus-sign signifies a number of other identities, and is included to keep the abbreviation brief when written out; the full abbreviation is LGBTTTQQIAA. The primary reason why the LGBTQIA2+ communtiy and pronouns matter is because it creates a positive impact on mental health, emotional well-being and quality of life for those a part or allied with the group.
LGBTQIA2+ Pronouns: When & How To Use Them
Every day we use pronouns in our speech and writing to address certain individuals or groups. With the use of pronouns, we all can agree that we use them unconsciously and sometimes aren’t mindful of others’ comfort or identities when doing so. Too often, when speaking of someone in the third person, these pronouns have a gender implied. These associations are not always accurate or helpful. Note to self, mistaking or assuming peoples’ pronouns without asking first, misrepresents them, their identity and sends a damaging message. Using someone’s correct gender pronouns is one of the most basic ways to show your respect for their identity and show support to the LGBTQIA2+ community.
Now-a-days people aren’t necessarily identifying with the sex they were given at birth. Examples of this are how people who identify as transgender (meaning they identify as a different gender than the sex they were assigned) or those who identify as non-binary (meaning they don’t identify as exclusively male nor exclusively female). While most of us try our best to respect these gender non-conforming individuals, sometimes language—and a simple lack of information—can make that complicated and lead to a lot of confusion, anxiety or create animosity in some spaces.
That said, it’s imperative to take a mental note when someone tells you which pronouns they prefer. In this regard LGBTQIA2+ people have said themselves that when someone says their pronouns are ‘too difficult’ for them to remember, what they hear is that you don’t value your friendship, the work that their doing in the world, or me them a person.
While cisgendered people tend to use the pronouns we’re all familiar with to describe themselves—he/him and she/her—some non-binary individuals choose different pronouns that you may not have heard of before.
What Are Gender Pronouns?
A gender pronoun is “the pronoun that a person chooses to use for themselves” to describe their gender. What this means is that, even if a person was born with male genitalia, they may still choose to use feminine pronouns to describe themselves, depending on what suits their gender expression. To bounce off of the example earlier, some transgender people change their pronouns to help identify more closely with the gender they are inside.
Also, more and more people have begun adopting gender-neutral pronouns—those that neither connote male nor female gender. These people feel as though the typical male and female pronouns do not accurately represent their gender identities and expressions. Those who identify as non-binary or gender non-conforming opt to use gender-neutral pronouns like “ze/zir/zirself” and “ve/ver/verself.”
Though it can be confusing, some non-binary people choose the pronouns “they” and “them” in place of “he/him” or “she/her,” since there is no gender associated with “they/them.” To view pronouns and some examples, view the chart created by BestLife Magazine below:
How Do You Use Gender Pronouns?
As said before, it is ALWAYS important to be mindful and ask someone which pronouns they use to identify themselves. You can’t—and shouldn’t—judge a book by its cover. Simply asking, “What are your gender pronouns?” can be one of the easiest ways to show support for the LGBTQIA2+ community, as it signals to them that you both care about and respect them. We all should be able to use pronouns that accurately describe our gender identity and expression.
So, for those of you who want to be allies to the LGBTQIA+ community, start familiarizing yourself with the pronouns of friends, family members, and strangers. The small act of using a person’s proper pronoun can make all the difference in their day. To learn more about pronouns or even on how to get familiar with LGBTQIA2+ community visit ACC’s LGBT eQuity website and see how we, Riverbats, take pride in our students, faculty and staff.