It has been quite awhile since most of us were in elementary school and learned essential grammar, but we think today is as good a day as ever for a little refresher — particularly regarding pronouns.
At the Studio/E GPS program we recently did with a couple dozen 16- to 22-year-olds, we got the refresher we didn’t know we needed about pronouns. The group of us went around the circle saying our names, and the first participant to introduce themselves announced their name and added that their preferred pronouns were they/them. And just like that, the rest of the group went around and introduced themselves, tacking on their preferred pronouns as casually as if they were offering up their last names. Some said he/him, some she/her, and some said they prefer to be called they/them. It was so normal to them, like they’ve done this a thousand times before.
This distinction between he/him, she/her and they/them is highly important, particularly when dealing with young minds. If you aren’t used to it, using “they” instead of “her” or “him” can be difficult (it was for us), but with the normalization of sharing preferred pronouns comes the responsibility that we can all successfully use them. We urge you to try something out — an actor in the show Billions, Asia Kate Dillon, identifies as non-binary, meaning that their pronoun preference is they/them. Try having a discussion about Asia utilizing the proper pronouns. It might be more challenging than you think.
About a year ago we had the GIF below made about pronouns. The message we were sending was that the use of “we” versus “you” makes a big difference. When a leader says “we,” he or she is sending a clear message that everyone is in this together. What we didn’t realize while commissioning this GIF was just how much pronouns really matter.
Watching this younger generation share their preferred pronouns struck a chord with us, and it’s a testament to how much you can learn from younger generations. Thank you to the participants of Studio/E GPS, pictured above, for bringing awareness to something we didn’t even know we needed clarity on.