What is International Pronouns Day?
International Pronouns Day seeks to make asking, sharing, and respecting personal pronouns commonplace. Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people’s multiple, intersecting identities. International Pronouns Day began in 2018 and takes place on the 3rd Wednesday of October each year. For 2019, it will be Wednesday, October 16. Individuals and groups will participate in grassroots activities that they determine at the local level.
How do I participate?
What do you mean when you talk about pronouns?
In English, there are a number of different kinds of pronouns. International Pronouns Day is specifically referring to third person personal pronouns, which are used to describe a person when you are talking about them. You can learn more about sharing, asking about, and recovering from mistakes when using pronouns at the MyPronouns.org website. More resources will appear on the How to Participate page as this website continues to develop. Because third person pronouns in English are often gendered, this can lead to a lot of assumptions that play out when people talk about us. This campaign is meant to help people break free from those assumptions.
What about pronouns in languages other than English?
Some languages do not have gendered personal pronouns, and so this is not an issue or concern. Some languages have gendered terms that people use referring to themselves. Some languages gender more than just pronouns, including various nouns and adjectives describing people. International Pronouns Day is open to all who may find it useful in their context, but we also recognize that this campaign website and materials are currently rooted in the particular needs in the English language context and communities. If you would like to organize a version of this campaign in a non-English-language context and wish to work with us on making this website and materials function in another language context, please reach out to our organizing group at firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer.
Do I have to use the pronouns someone wants me to use when I refer to them?
We think it's common courtesy and basic to human dignity to do so, like calling someone by their name. Some jurisdictions and organizations have also made it clear that intentionally or repeatedly using the incorrect pronouns could be evidence of discriminatory harassment or a hostile environment.
Do people have to share their pronouns?
Some people only want to be referred to by their name, may not wish to share their pronouns, or may go by multiple sets of pronouns or only certain pronouns in certain contexts. Sharing your own pronouns, though, helps to let people know how you like to be referred to, and it also creates a culture where it's okay to share and by sharing you help to disrupt the idea that making assumptions is going to work.
Will International Pronouns Day always be the same date each year?
International Pronouns Day will be on the 3rd Wednesday of October each year. Thus, these are the upcoming dates:
Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
What if we have a conflict on the date and want to organize activities on another date?
If a local group is better served by celebrating and educating on a differing date, we encourage them to do so.
Could you send me materials or help fund my local event?
Unfortunately, we are not equipped to do that in our first year. We are a volunteer-run campaign, and we have for the time being also decided not to raise or collect funds (though we may accept certain in-kind contributions). We encourage local groups to find local resources. We will provide online resources, including information and ideas, logos or other things you can potentially incorporate into your own materials. It's grassroots.
Is this a youth thing?
While the originators of this campaign come out of working with students in higher education, the issue of creating welcoming environments that affirm the pronouns people go by affects people across the age spectrum.
How is this international?
While the originators of this campaign are U.S. based, they do not wish to limit this campaign by calling it a "National" day, and invite anyone who finds the campaign useful to join. In 2018, there were participants from 25 countries in every continent except Antarctica. We recognize that the need for this day of celebration and education is not equal in all places, and that the resources of this website and campaign will grow over time to become more and more inclusive, and we invite your participation to help make that happen.
What if pronouns are not a priority issue in my community?
Intersecting forms of oppression can deeply impact our communities. Transgender people, especially those whose gender is or is perceived to be outside of the man/woman binary, are sometimes harassed and treated with hostility, which is often evidenced by intentional or repeated use of the wrong pronouns.
We seek to stop the violence that disproportionately affects transgender women and femmes of color, which often seeks to humiliate and obliterate, and which is rooted in the desire to exert power, to erase and control. Using the right pronouns is one of the most basic starting points to acknowledging the humanity of transgender and gender nonconforming people. While that may not in and of itself stop the violence, it is an entry point into conversation.
That said, we recognize that not all communities will find celebrating and educating about pronouns to be among their top priorities. That's understandable. Thus, we encourage those who believe that this campaign will help them and work in their context to join the campaign. Those who have other priorities might choose other days of action to participate in instead, and we understand that.
How can I be more involved?
Who is behind this campaign?
We are an independent project, supported by a variety of endorsers. We are led by an executive board:
International Pronouns Day - Executive Board
Shige Sakurai, MBA, MA (they or ze), UMD
Founder and Co-Chair
Genny Beemyn, Ph.D. (they), UMass Amherst
Julia Anderson, MA (she), UConn
Elonda Ervin, Ph.D. (she), Indiana State
Aiden Jay Kaplan, MSW (he), Long Island Crisis Center
Max Masure (they), Argo Collective
Luca Maurer, MS, CFLE, CSE (he), Ithaca College
Kate Rawson, M.Ed (she): UNC Greensboro
Raivynn Smith (they), University of Michigan
Maure Smith-Benanti (she), Grinnell
Chris Tanaka (she or they), Stony Brook University
Jo Teut, MA (ze), University of Wisconsin