Community Central
Community Central

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard the word “pronouns” (as in personal pronouns) sometime in the past. Today, I’m going to talk about being pronoun-inclusive to your fellow community members.

What are personal pronouns? (definition and common misconceptions)[]

Sourced from Fandom's wonderful LGBTQIA+ Wiki, personal pronouns are “...used to refer to a person when not using their name, and they are the type of pronouns meant when discussing a person's pronouns.[1]"

A super-common misconception is that pronouns are an “LGBTQIA+ thing,” but that’s actually not true! Excluding the handful of people who prefer to use no pronouns, everybody has pronouns, even if you’re cisgender (cisgender = someone who is not transgender[2]).

Another super-common misconception is that pronouns = gender identity (gender identity = internal sense of gender[3]), but that’s also not true! Pronouns are a form of gender expression (gender expression = how someone may choose to outwardly express their gender identity[4]), and gender expression isn’t equal to gender. For example, one could identify 100% as female, but use he/him/his pronouns, and it wouldn’t necessarily mean they were male (Sidenote: This also applies to things like clothing. One could identify as male but choose to wear skirts, dresses, ect; clothes that are considered to be feminine).

Stop assuming pronouns[]

One of the best ways to be pronoun-inclusive is to never assume someone’s pronouns. Assuming pronouns means to assume what someone's pronouns are based on things you know about them, such as their gender identity or the clothes they wear.

And since you aren't assuming pronouns, in the meantime, you address this person using they/them/theirs pronouns. For example “they edited that section last week,” “that’s their userpage,” or “that template was made by them.” They/them/theirs are gender-neutral pronouns, which means they don’t convey a specific gender identity.

Another option is to address the person not using any pronouns; you’d refer to them only by their name or their username. In English, while very convenient, pronouns are technically “optional.”

Bottom line: Even if they say they’re female, don’t use she/her/hers pronouns to address them. Even if they say they’re male, don’t use he/him/his pronouns to address them. Even if their profile picture seems feminine, don’t assume they use she/her/hers pronouns. Not until they’ve stated what their pronouns are.

Don't be scared to ask[]

In a perfect world, whenever you meet new people, the whole group would exchange their pronouns at the same rate they’d exchange their names. And you can help make this dream a reality by simply asking new/current community members what their pronouns are. Be sure to not pressure anybody into sharing their pronouns. Asking is totally okay, but if for whatever reason they don’t want to share their pronouns with you, don’t continue to ask them to disclose their pronouns. It's also important to note that, because pronouns don't equal gender, it's not necessary to ask for someone's gender when asking for their pronouns; do not pressure anyone to disclose their gender identity.

Looking for pronouns[]

Sometimes, you don't always have to ask your fellow editors for their pronouns, because they've already been mentioned somewhere else, i.e. their Fandom userpage/bio; lots of users like to add their pronouns there. Before interacting with new users, checking their userpage to see if they've included their pronouns is never a bad move.

In the event that one doesn't know someone's pronouns, users (both on and off Fandom) tend to address someone using the pronouns it seems everyone else is using to refer to them. And while this might seem like a good strategy, it isn't always the best choice, because there's a chance the users you're copying are also assuming the person's pronouns, which, of course, should be avoided. Instead, you can ask these users if they've confirmed this person's pronouns (i.e. the person in question has somehow clarified "these are my pronouns"), or check the person's userpage to see if they've confirmed their pronouns there.

Including your pronouns[]

Another recommendation is that you go the extra mile, and include your pronouns on your Fandom userpage/bio (if you are comfortable doing so, that is!). Therefore, other users don't need to ask you for your pronouns; they can make use of your pronouns right from the start.

Don't misgender[]

"Misgendering" means to indicate someone is a gender that they are not.[5] This is usually achieved by stating one is X gender when they are actually Y gender, or using incorrect pronouns or other gendered terms to refer to them.

Misgendering works hand-in-hand with assuming pronouns; assuming somebody identifies as female because they're wearing a skirt, assuming someone uses she/her pronouns because they're wearing a skirt. Assuming pronouns often leads to misgendering, and misgendering is often related to assuming pronouns. Both are equally as harmful, especially to transgender and non-binary people. Thus, it is vital that community member's never misgender each other, and especially never on purpose. Even if it's "just a joke."

Why is this important?[]

While it may seem like a minor detail, the affirmation of our pronouns and gender identities go a long way! Both in real-life, and on a wiki. The affirmation of pronouns helps everybody feel comfortable, safe, and "seen" by their community.

As a community member, you’d want to feel comfortable sharing your pronouns and identity with everyone else, wouldn’t you? So, treat others the way you want to be treated; make sure everyone gets to feel comfortable with you, too. Instead of assuming pronouns and misgendering other users, be sure to not assume pronouns, to ask for pronouns, and work to never misgender other users. You -yes, you!- can easily be part of creating a pronoun-inclusive environment on your favorite wikis. So jump in there!