I'm seeing more and more email signatures with people's preferred gender pronouns attached.

This can only mean one thing - I read too many emails.

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Apparently, gender pronouns are "a thing" on Instagram and other social media, but I'm not seeing it that much. (Probably because I don't have my glasses on. - You get that if you're over 40)

So, the question I have: Do I need to choose my gender pronouns and display them proudly?

SIDEBAR: I really don't care what sex and/or gender you are or want to be. That's your business, not mine. If you're nice to kids, dogs, and you own grandmothers, you're OK in my book.

So, I looked around the internet for some help on this and came up with a pretty good article on gender pronouns from the National Institutes of Health. I don't really know what the "NIH" does, but their name sounds official. (Oh, and am I correct in using "their" here? Does the NIH have a pronoun? Oh, brother. Oops! Should that be "Oh sister"?)

If you're confused, well, so am I.

So, let's see if we can straighten this out. (And be "we", I guess I mean me, because "we" isn't my pronoun. At least I don't think so. I think by using "we" here I'm just be grammatically incorrect.)

According to the NIH article, traditionally, people have used these pronouns: "he/him/his” for men and “she/her/hers” for women. Now, "This binary reference of gender no longer applies to the broadening nomenclature of gender identities and expressions."

Oh. OK.

(Again, I'm not against this, I'm just trying to understand.)

Here's where it gets tricky. (And by tricky I don't mean good or bad, I just mean new.)

"Gender-expansive employees – those who do not self-identify as male or female – often challenge existing understanding and norms around gender. They may opt to use gender-expansive pronouns such as "they/them/theirs" instead of the gendered examples listed above. Though they may be used less often, other options also exist, such as "ze/hir/hirs." Additionally, instead of gendered honorifics such as "Ms." or "Mr.", people may choose to use the more inclusive "Mx (pronounced mix). All of these examples reflect how people express their identities using languages which fail to include gender neutral pronouns."

If you want to know what pronouns are out there and available, you can check this out. It's from the University Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  It's a pretty big list - and includes many pronouns, that, honestly, I've never heard of and I don't know what they mean. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, I hope.)

So, again, do I HAVE to choose pronouns for myself? Or meself? Or us?

The answer is no. You can keep doing what you're doing if you want.

Just be respectful of others who are suggesting that you use their preferred pronouns when addressing them.

As for me, I'm quite comfortable with "Hey You." It's what my wife calls me, so why not everyone else?

SOURCES: National Institute of Health and UMW.edu.

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