Pronouns are important to people, especially in the LGBTQ+ community. It reflects who we are as a person and our values. The pronouns people use are he/him/his, she/her/hers, they/them/theirs, and xe. No matter which you use, it is a part of who you are as a human.
We sat down with Dr. Flatt and asked him about what pronouns are and about the “This Is Me” program here at Cuyahoga Community College. His insightful words helped us clarify pronouns, what they mean, and how they are used.
Dr. Flatt shared with us the “This is Me” initiative program and how to change your pronouns at Tri-C. Dr. Flatts stated, “You can update your preferred name, gender identity, and personal pronouns at www.tri-c.edu/thisisme. You can also find links to some educational resources on this site.”
When asked what pronouns mean, Dr. Flatts describes, “Pronouns are words that we use to refer to other people when not using their names.” He also provided an example, “We often say ‘she is over there’ instead of ‘Margaret is over there.’ We also use these reference terms when we do not know names, often based on assumptions of sex or gender.” Here Dr. Flatts demonstrates how important pronouns are when using them to describe someone.
Pronouns are necessary to everyone. Dr. Flatts makes this very clear by stating, “Pronouns are important indicators for a person’s gender identity. One simple way to think about why they matter is to think about the pronouns you expect people to use when referring to you, then imagine them using another.”
We all have our own identities, and we all need to express those identities through expression and ways of how we treat each other. When talking about gender identity, Dr. Flatts clarifies, “Gender identity is yourself of sense. This could be whether you see yourself as a man, women, non-binary, gender-fluid, or some other variation. Gender refers to the social expectations associated with someone’s real or perceived biological sex.” Dr. Flatts also adds, “We often think about gender in binary terms of masculinity and femininity. These binary constructions, of course, ignore the incredible spectrum of gender expression that exists.” Sexual orientation refers to the one’s sexual identity, and examples are, straight, gay, bisexual, pansexual, etc. Gender and sexuality are separate concepts, and one should not make assumptions about either.
Inclusion is a big part of the LGBTQ+ community, especially here at Tri-C. When talking about inclusion, Dr. Flatts shares, “Inclusion means more than providing lip service to diversity. It means making sure that all people, regardless of race, age, religion, ability, sex, or gender, feel like they are part of a community.” He continues to share, “All people deserve to be seen and respected, and LGBTQ people have been forced into the shadows. Colleges have a great opportunity to create important social change through education and raising awareness.”
The way a person views themselves in society is important to who they are. Dr. Flatts explains this perfectly, “Pronouns are an important feature of personal identity. They signal our gender identity to people around us and stand in for us when our names are not used. One easy way to think about this matter is to remind yourself that it is not up to you to decide someone else’s gender identity or pronouns. You do not even need to fully understand why they identify the way they do—you simply need to respect people. Pronouns are not preferences, they are personal.”