Cultivating a stigma-free climate of appreciation and inclusion is one of the Achieving Together Plan’s focus areas. We recognize that language changes over time and we aspire to create shared language that promotes appreciation and inclusion of all people.
While language and usage may change, what’s important is recognizing and respecting people as individuals. People use a variety of terms to identify themselves, so you should always listen for and respect a person’s self-identified terminology.
NPR recently shared a guide to gender identity terms, with the goal of helping people communicate accurately and respectfully with one another.
“Proper use of gender identity terms, including pronouns, is a crucial way to signal courtesy and acceptance. Alex Schmider, associate director of transgender representation at GLAAD, compares using someone’s correct pronouns to pronouncing their name correctly – ‘a way of respecting them and referring to them in a way that’s consistent and true to who they are.’”
You can find NPR’s guide here. The guide, which was created with help from GLAAD, is not exhaustive and is Western and U.S.-centric.
Remember that we are all learning and evolving and we might make mistakes with regard to someone’s preferred pronouns and gender identity, but if that is the case, simply apologize, move on, and be more cognizant of it in future interactions. We know that creating a life-affirming environment that will promote health and wellness for all people is the only way we can truly create a stigma-free climate of appreciation and inclusion.
Want to further explore ideas of gender identity?
- The folks behind TED talks compiled a playlist of TED talks celebrating (and deconstructing) the gender spectrum.
- Human Rights Campaign also shared a glossary of gender identity terms here.