Using our language for inclusion and welcome
Being a welcoming and inclusion community means consciously working to find ways to name, honor, and value experiences and identities that are usually minimized or devalued. It means uncovering our unconscious assumptions about what’s “normal” and who is present in our community, and opening ourselves to the possibility of greater diversity. In order for us each to feel welcome and included in faith communities, we need to see ourselves reflected and present in some way.
– from the Unitarian Universalist Association
Pronouns are a powerful form of agency for individuals defining their own identity. Gender identity is a fluid and open process for many, and some feel that traditional pronoun use doesn’t fit with their own gender identities. Transgender, genderqueer, and other gender-variant people may choose different pronouns for themselves than those in traditional use. By naming our own pronouns with intention, we become more mindful of gender identity diversity and openness.
– Adapted from the UW-Madison LGBT Campus Pronoun guide
The following is a chart of common pronouns used, knowing that these take many forms from person to person, and can change.
(Graphic courtesy of transstudent.org/graphics)
Some notes and suggestions about pronoun use in community:
Being inclusive and welcoming means learning and growing in our awareness of gender identity and diversity, and being more comfortable with language that changes and adapts as we strive to honor diversity and openness in our communities. Intentional pronoun use is one way to honor and welcome people of various identities, as well as understand and acknowledge our own identities. Knowing that it is a learning process, and holding each other in grace, here are some notes to help with how to use pronouns intentionally in community:
- Introduce yourself using your name and pronouns.
- Use pronouns as a common “introduction/check-in” practice in smaller groups.
- Use someone’s name in place of pronouns more often.
- Ask others how they would like to be referred to.
- Remember that pronouns may change for individuals and are not always linked to their gender identity
- If you make a mistake, simply correct yourself or offer a quick apology, showing respect and care.
- Be mindful, but try not to focus on, pronouns. Some may not prefer much, or any, attention to their pronouns.
- Be gentle with yourself, and with others.
- Remind others gently about your pronouns, and begin in a place of grace, respect, and honoring of each other.
- It is okay to make mistakes, to admit mistakes, and try to be more careful and mindful going forward.
For more information, please contact the church office and/or visit these links:
About the Unitarian Universalist Association Welcoming Congregation program, of which our church is a participant:
Guidance on Inclusive Language from the Unitarian Universalist Association:
A gender pronoun guide from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for a brief overview of practices: