AEE 777: How to Connect to People in the LGBT Community

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When you meet someone who is transgender do you know what pronouns to use to refer to them?

Should you use “her” or “him” or “they”?

This is a question that you will have to answer if you want to connect with new people in the United States.

Today we’ll answer a question from a student in our course about what pronouns to use when he talks to someone who is transgender.

Here is the question from our listener:

“Hi Lindsay and Jessica – I have so many ties with the LGBTQ community that I am usually very at  ease. When I refer to a trans person I am used to used to using the final product pronoun meaning that I would refer to a trans woman as “she” and vice versa. The thing is, some people don’t identify as male or female. They are balled non-binary. I hear “they” has become very popular in such case. My problem is, I find this very difficult to use this for just one person. I am not sure what the verb form that follows should be. Would you say, “Paula has a new passport but they don’t want to renew their driver license” or “Paula has a new passport but they doesn’t want to renew their driver license”? I would be so relieved to have some guidelines on this one. Thank you so much and even if you don’t have the time to respond, your podcasts are so amazing.”

 

This is a key for connection!

You are not JUST learning to communicate with people in the mainstream of society.

Learning how to use the right pronoun to refer to transgender people is super important to connection.

 

What we know for sure:

When a person is transgender and identifies as a woman that person usually wants to be referred to as “she.”

Friends and family have to constantly remember and make the effort because they want to respect the person.

 

What if you don’t know what pronoun to use?

Be open enough to ask the other person what they prefer.

Asking people what pronoun you should use shows respect.

Here is what you can ask:

“I’m sorry, I was wondering which pronoun you prefer.”

 

What about the use of “they” when you refer to someone?

In general, everyday English, we use “they” to refer to someone when we don’t know the gender of the person and we follow that with the correct grammar for the plural pronoun.

We would recommend doing the same for people who ask you to use “they” as their pronoun.

 

This can get confusing but don’t let confusion or embarrassment break the connection.

As long as you are making an effort and you have shown that you respect the person and want to connect with them it’s not going to be a big deal.

Want to learn more about American perspectives on GLBT rights?

Click here to get into our course Secrets of the Connected Communicator.

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