The Power of Gender Inclusive Pronouns
It’s Pride Month and at Walden Behavioral Care, our pride is in our ability to connect from one heart to another. This means that when we work with clients, and each other, our priority is to treat one another as equals, as allies, and respected members of the greater community.
We understand that due to a lack of understanding or education, many people may feel ill-equipped to interact effectively with the LGBTQ+ community. We want to help put your mind at ease and improve the experience of those identifying within the LGBTQ+ population. To do this, it is important to reiterate the power of pronouns.
Why do pronouns matter?
- Using the pronouns that align with an individual’s gender identity shows the LGBTQ+ population that we accept them for exactly who they are. What we know about acceptance is that it is one of the greatest indicators for successful treatment outcomes. Put simply, using pronouns can greatly impact the rate at which our patients feel better.
- Using the correct pronouns demonstrates respect. In order to form collaborative relationships with both our clients and the people around us, we must approach all people with respect to maximize results and improve therapeutic connections.
- Using the correct pronouns nurtures an explicitly welcoming culture and environment. This is especially important for the LGBTQ+ community because they may not have the privilege of assuming that their environments are safe, supportive or welcoming. That is why it is critical for us all to ensure that our welcomes are explicit.
- Using the correct pronouns helps us to avoid making assumptions about gender. What we know about gender is that it cannot be assessed based solely on outward expression. Using pronouns creates the opportunity for us all to share pronouns so that we can avoid misgendering someone.
- Using the correct pronouns challenges cisnormativity. Cisnormativity is the belief that everyone is cisgender (a person whose sex assigned at birth aligns with their gender identity) which can invalidate the identities of those who do not identify as cisgender.
- Using the correct pronouns challenges transphobia. Transphobia is the fear, hatred and/or discrimination against transgender people and the community as a whole. If we continue utilizing pronouns as part of our everyday vernacular, it will become more normalized and better understood.
How do we hold ourselves accountable with pronouns?
- Say it three times. Studies show that using the correct pronouns for an individual three times reduces the chances of continued misgendering. For example, if you catch yourself using the wrong pronouns for someone, think of 3 sentences in your head where you use the correct pronouns for that person.
- Don’t over-apologize. This can put the onus on the other person to caretake you, which can create a harmful power dynamic. It is best that you acknowledge the mistake, use the correct pronoun, and move on with the conversation.
- Correct gently. If you hear someone else using the wrong pronouns for an individual, correct them! A gentle nudge with mentioning the individual’s correct pronouns can be enough to remind the other person what pronouns to use.
- Mistakes Happen. It takes practice to learn how to use the correct pronouns. Be kind to yourself if you make a mistake, and make sure that you continue to practice if you see yourself using the wrong pronouns.
- Expand your horizons. Neo-pronouns are pronouns that are considered new to us, and can include pronouns such as xe/xem/xyrs, fae/faer/faers, and ze/zim/zirs. Learn about how these pronouns are used and practice in your mind so you can use these pronouns appropriately in conversations with others.
We hope that this information will help to create a more collaborative and inclusive environment for all individuals regardless of gender or gender identity.
Walden’s Rainbow Road Program
To help our industry begin to address the disparities for the LGBTQIA2s+ community, Walden launched Rainbow Road, a PHP and IOP that addresses the specific needs and challenges of this population.
Rainbow Road is the first of its kind in the country in terms of eating disorder treatment for queer clients, by queer and allied providers who have a deep understanding of intersectional therapy and the nuances needed to work with clients in a way that is affirming and creates sustainable recovery.
For more information about Walden Behavioral Care, please visit waldenbehavioralcare.com.