We use various pronouns to refer to ourselves. Aimi uses “they/them”; Johnna uses “ze/hir”; and Margaret and Melanie use “she/her.” We ask that you use these pronouns when talking with or referring to us. Appropriate use of our pronouns is a critical part of creating an accessible space in which we feel safe, recognized, and known–in short, a space free of some of the barriers that make it harder for us to do the work and connecting that we want to do.
As part of this practice, you might also consider offering your own pronouns when you meet people at conferences or other professional gatherings. For example, when saying “Hi, I’m so-and-so,” you can add “and the pronouns I use are such-and-such.” You could also add a pronoun tag to your conference badge.
Engaging in this practice does not mean you’re promising to snap into perfect usage right away. There’s a learning curve associated with changing the pronouns that you use automatically as part of your learned speech patterns. We encourage you to correct your usage as needed, and not to blame yourself for making some usage errors; it’s pretty safe to say that happens to everyone, including those of us who are accustomed to using diverse pronouns.
Margaret’s mother enjoys using a baseball metaphor for her use of genderqueer pronouns: when she makes it through a full conversation without any pronoun mix-ups, she refers to it as “playing errorless ball.” We hope you will come at this practice in the same spirit of enthusiasm, acceptance of imperfection, and acknowledgment of everyone’s value and vulnerability as a person.