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What are pronouns and neopronouns?

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Pronouns & neopronouns definition

It has been acknowledged since the late 20th century that a large number of people identify as neither man/boy nor woman/girl, and that some people identify as nonbinary (i.e., neither or both). These developments have sparked discussions about a "gender continuum" and increased support for the general use of gender-neutral pronouns (they, them and their) in place of masculine (he, him, his) or feminine pronouns (she, her, hers). 

Pronouns play a crucial role in our daily lives since they are the words we use to refer to both ourselves and other people. The most widely used personal pronouns in English are he/him/his and she/her/hers, which are used to denote individuals who identify as masculine or feminine, respectively. Another popular set of pronouns that many non-binary individuals use is they/them/theirs. 

What are neopronouns? 

Neopronouns are pronouns that are not limited to the most often used pronouns in a given language. Since pronouns ultimately represent an individual's identity, there is no limit to the quantity and variety of (neo)pronouns one can employ. 

The sets xe/xir/xirs, ze/zir/zirs, and fae/faer/faers are examples of neopronoun sets. 

Real-world context

  • Recruitment process: Encouraging candidates to choose their pronouns in a job application can greatly contribute to the feeling of acceptance and openness that gender nonconforming employees receive. Providing an "other" area so the candidate can be more forthcoming about who they are is also neutral. During the interview process, you can politely ask the candidate which pronouns they identify with, and share your own pronouns to corroborate their pronouns. Pronoun disclosure conveys the idea that gender is not presumptive. 
  • Ways of working: Make sure all participants in communications, whether formal or informal, feel valued, secure, and included. All employees will be expected to be included as a result of this strategy. Companies should state in their personnel policies that staff members should anticipate that their coworkers will use the pronouns that they identify with. Employers can even go further by enacting self-identification codes and name regulations to encourage diversity and raise awareness.  

To promote an inclusive workplace culture, think about adding pronouns to name tags or work email signatures. Furthermore, think twice before writing your email pleasantries like "Dear ladies/gentleman" and instead use neutral language while remaining formal. 

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