Respect for pronouns can make a difference

Illustration by Diana Ortega

October celebrates a variety of occasions and events throughout the month. International Pronouns Day falls on the third week of October and is an annual celebration. This holiday seeks to make asking, learning and respecting one’s correct pronouns routine and focuses on transgender and nonbinary individuals.

 Junior Eden Wendler, an ally of transgender and nonbinary individuals, said International Pronouns Day, which is celebrated on Oct. 21, spreads awareness about those who identify as a different gender than that assigned at birth. 

“To me, International Pronouns Day means that no matter how you identify, you are valid, and you are seen and heard,” Wendler said in an email interview. “It means that respect for everyone can be shown even in little ways like including your pronouns in your [social media] bio to show that you’re an ally.” 

Wendler said one way people can celebrate International Pronouns Day is by retweeting or sharing stories of those who are nonbinary and transgender. She said this helps amplify transgender and nonbinary voices and shine light on the importance of pronouns. International Pronouns Day can also be celebrated by using #PronounsDay on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

More activities are listed on the International Pronouns Day website, including creating custom pronoun pins and an event that promotes inclusion.

NAU’s Office of Inclusion provides resources for transgender and gender-diverse students, which include inclusive housing, a map of all the gender-neutral bathrooms on campus and a Trans Health and Wellness ebook. NAU has also posted an introduction to pronouns guide for students to understand the importance behind pronouns.

 Rea Harris, a librarian at Cline Library who specializes in finding LGBTQ+ resources, said it is essential to respect one another’s pronouns. 

“Respecting a person’s pronouns is not only essential to basic human dignity, but is also essential for the safety of the person, particularly transgender and gender nonconforming people,” Harris said in an email interview. 

Harris said outing a person by using incorrect pronouns can lead to a negative impact on one’s mental health. Campus Health Services offers mental health support to those in need, including individual counseling, group therapy and 24-hour emergency crisis interventions. Due to COVID-19, all counseling services will be held via Telehealth, a virtual health care provider. 

NAU also provides a free online health assessment through ULifeline. This online service does not provide a diagnosis, but helps students access local resources. NAU lists a variety of sites that help guide students through mental health resources, such as Seize the Awkward and NAU’s Stressbusters Wellness App

Seize the Awkward is an interactive website that helps students learn the signs that someone might be experiencing poor mental health, while the Stressbusters Wellness App includes deep breathing techniques. 

Harris said International Pronouns Day is about acceptance and giving students the opportunity to share their stories as others listen and learn from their peers. 

“If you are having trouble remembering a person’s pronouns or using them, practice on your own,” Harris said in an email interview. “There are websites you can use that help you practice pronouns you may not be familiar with using, such as Practice with Pronouns. It is important for you to put in the effort to support those for whom the correct pronouns are vitally important.”  

 NAU promotes safety for all students and prohibits discrimination against a person’sgender identity and sexual orientation by having policies in place. These policies protect students from discrimination and harrassment while attending the university. Some of these policies include Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR)Nondiscriminatoryand Anti-Harassment Policy. 

 NAU not only has policies in place for students, but offers mixed-gender and gender-inclusive housing as well. While the majority of housing on campus is designated as co-ed, mixed-gender housing allows students of any sex, gender or identity to live together. Gender-inclusive housing gives transgender, gender-variant and questioniong students the opportunity to live in a housing unit with one another. This housing is available and was created for students who do not feel at ease living in a single gender-binary unit. 

Cline Library librarian Catherine Lockmiller said she has experienced instances where she saw what happens when someone is misgendered. 

“As a transgender woman, first and foremost, and somebody who works a lot in certain health science fields with members of the LGBTQ+ community in particular, I see what it means when people are not seen as themselves, or when they are misunderstood,” Lockmiller said. 

The Office of Inclusion’s mission statement says it supports gender and sexuality diversity on campus by creating an accepting environment. Its mission is to strive for an all-inclusive community and create a safe and encouraging learning atmosphere for students during their time in college. The Office of Inclusion also posted about an event they held for International Pronouns Day on its Instagram

 Freshman Galileah Sanchez said she was unaware of International Pronouns Day, but is in full support of the holiday. 

“I think it’s amazing that the holiday exists,” Sanchez said. “Everybody should have the right to be called or considered whatever they feel is part of who they are.”

International Pronouns Day celebrates and welcomes everyone and gives the community a chance to learn about the respectful usage of pronouns. The celebration is an opportunity for others to become more informed about the importance of using pronouns correctly.