More politicians should share their pronouns on social media

Sharing your pronouns shows soldiarity with the non-binary and transgender communities.

More and more people are publically sharing their pronouns on their social media accounts.

Lin-Manuel Miranda (he/him), Jameela Jamil (she/her), Monica Lewinsky (she/her) and Liv Hewson (they/them) all list their pronouns.

However, none of the MPs from the previous parliamentary term included their personal pronouns in their Twitter bios.

Pronouns are words that can be used in place of a name to refer to someone. E.g. “she is campaigning”, “he voted”, “they were elected”.

These are often (but not always) based on the gender of the person they’re referring to. As gender is an innate feeling, it is not externally visible so it’s not always obvious which pronouns to use. People may dress or act in a way specific to their gender which makes it easier to guess, but these guesses aren’t necessarily correct.

This is particularly important for transgender people (whose gender identity does not match the one they were assigned at birth) and non-binary people (who don’t identify as either a man or a woman).

Using the correct pronoun to refer to someone shows respect and acknowledges their gender. It’s a basic act of manners like making sure to pronounce someone’s name correctly.

Many people who are not transgender (known as cisgender) choose to share their pronouns to show solidarity with this marginalised community.

This normalises the process and allows transgender and non-binary people to specify their pronouns without revealing themselves to be transgender or non-binary, which isn’t always safe.

Some cisgender people also choose to use a pronoun that does not match their assigned birth gender. This may be done for political reasons, like supporting gender equality, or simply because they prefer another pronoun.

When it comes to pronouns there is only one important rule to follow: ask don’t assume. It’s not possible to know someone’s pronouns without them telling you.

Until a pronoun is specified, it’s best to use gender-neutral pronouns or ask the person what pronouns they use. To make this easier, some people wear badges giving their pronouns.

Despite the lack of UK MPs listing their pronouns on their social media accounts, it’s not unusual for politicians to include their pronouns in online profiles.

American presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro and Bill de Blasio have their pronouns listed. American congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also includes “she/her” in her Twitter profile.

At an LGBT+ event hosted by Pink News, some UK politicians publicly shared their pronouns. Conservative MP, Penny Mordaunt, gave her pronouns as “she”. Conservative Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, gave his pronouns as “he/him”.

Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, introduced himself with the pronouns “he/him”. Unfortunately, none of the politicians who shared their pronouns went on to add them to their online bios.

Jeremy Corbyn also gave “Jeremy” or “Jezza” as alternative pronouns. Some people prefer to use their name or a shortened form of their name instead of pronouns, particularly when none of the common pronoun options feel right to someone or if their gender identity is fluid so their pronoun often changes.

As well as offering personal support, MPs have the power to reduce systemic barriers for transgender people.

The Liberal Democrats, Labour and Green Party manifestos for the 2019 general election contained plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act to allow self-identification. The Liberal Democrats also wanted to legally recognise non-binary people.

As well as continuing to fight for these promises to the transgender community, hopefully, some of the newly elected MPs will decide to show solidarity with the transgender community and add their pronouns to their social media.

Kim Barrett (they/them) is a freelance writer from Oxford, and tweets here.

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17 Responses to “More politicians should share their pronouns on social media”

  1. Michael McManus

    Please. This is a trivial, self-infatuated fetish and just the sort of obsession that has lost Labour votes.
    How blinkered and cramped in outlook do you have to think this personal/private matter trumps all the other things we face in Britain and the world.
    Labour should not be thinking how it can show solidarity with this or that group but what it can do for something bigger – dare one say humanity. You can’t unite people by chopping them up into pieces and giving each piece what it demands.

  2. Alice Aforethought

    What Michael said.
    It has sometimes been claimed, over the last few years, that the world was laughing at us over Brexit. You know what really made the world laugh? That stuff about there being 100 genders, that’s what. That went around the world and the world thought we had totally lost out shit.
    Get out of the loony London bubble and FFS connect. This makes the left look utterly trivial.

  3. Alice Aforethought

    What Michael said.
    It has sometimes been claimed, over the last few years, that the world was laughing at us over Brexit. You know what really made the world laugh? That stuff about there being 100 genders, that’s what. That went around the world and the world thought we had totally lost our shit.
    Get out of the loony London bubble and FFS connect. This makes the left look utterly trivial.

  4. Michael McManus

    Thanks Alice.
    The trans pressure group does raise a wider issue and that is Human Rights. HR has not been the panacea that was hoped. We are still left with the problems we started with around justice and fairness. In the female sports and spaces matter, for instance, how do we decide between the man- who.-says-he’s-woman and the born woman? A cynic might say that the vehemence of some trans m2w shows a lack of compassion and that shows they are still men all right.

    It’s a pity we have this disagreement because the battle has long been won for sexual behaviours and instincts. We don’t need Pride Marches. What’s to be proud of? You ,might as well be proud of being tall or having blue eyes.

    Way back in 1990 I published a series of social studies books for schools with Hodder. One chapter addressed the gay issue (still alleged to be subject to Sec28), arguing for tolerance and so on through a cartoon-story. Two of my colleagues who I’d worked with for years commented on it and for the first time (really!) I learned they were gay. Neither had made an issue of it and both were what is called ‘straight acting’.

    Seems to me the voters are as open and easy going on this as on other issues and we don’t need to lead them to think there’s some special agenda they can see no importance in. They’ve had enough of experts and elites have they not said?

  5. Alice Aforethought

    @ Michael

    Agree with all that. A big part of how a party or more generally a political leaning is perceived lies in what it does and does not talk about.

    The preoccupation with transgender issues etc feels to me like seizing on something to provide the next gay emancipation issue where the left has unquestionably carried the day, to the extent that the right has absorbed and internalised all its views. Is it really that big a deal? Is it really a comparable injustice in breadth and scale?

    Meanwhile, ahead of last week, the left seemed to have little or nothing to say about the role of the individual, the importance of personal ambition, fairness between those who work and those who don’t, between those employed and self employed, and so on. By leaving this ground vacant and undiscussed, the left is allowing the right to colonise it unopposed.

    Why for example did Labour think a self employed worker on £50k a year should pay more tax than an employed one? If there is an argument for that, fine, but I didn’t hear it.

    Picking topics is an important art and at present the right is winning on this. Work to be done.

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