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  • Mary Carolla

Why Do You Ask? Pronouns

Pronouns are nothing new; they’ve been a part of human language pretty much since the beginning. Grammatically, a pronoun is a word that is used instead of a noun or noun phrase. Pronouns refer to either a noun that has already been mentioned or to a noun that does not need to be named specifically. The most familiar are the personal pronouns we use when speaking about one’s self (first person), when speaking directly to another person or group (second person), and when speaking about another person or group (third person). When I ask what your pronouns are, it is these personal pronouns I am referring to, and I am asking which ones best reflect your identity.

So, why do I ask this? Why does it matter? Using a person’s correct personal pronouns is a way to respect them and create an inclusive environment, just as using someone’s name (or preferred name) can be a way to respect them. When we know and use someone’s correct pronouns, it affirms their identity, helps them feel comfortable in their own body, and shows respect for who they are. This is also why I ask if there is a name you prefer to be called that is different from your legal name. Whether that is a nickname or shortened version of your name, or something completely different, I want you to be addressed the way you want to be addressed.

Sharing and using appropriate pronouns is an easy first step toward respecting everyone’s identity and creating a more welcoming space for all my clients. I share my own pronouns (in my email signature and in the biography on my website, for example) to help normalize the practice. My pronouns, by the way, are she/her/hers.

Are you required to share your pronouns with me? Nope; the question is optional. Share if you wish, but no worries if you choose not to. Whatever feels best for you is absolutely fine. It is my sincere hope that everyone feels safe and welcome in my massage therapy practice, exactly as they are.

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