A survey shows that children’s pronouns are important. It is time for adults to listen.
The pronouns that a child uses, whether he, it, they or they, or something entirely different – are extremely personal. Pronouns say something about who a person is, and hearing people use the right pronouns can literally save the lives of non-binary youth, according to a new poll.
Non-binary youth whose pronouns are not respected at all attempt suicide at 2.5 times the rate of youth who are surrounded by people who respect all or almost all of their pronouns, according to the investigation, which was led by the association The Trevor project and was released just in time for the International Non-Binary People’s Day on July 14.
Among non-binary youth who said no one respected their pronouns, 27% had attempted suicide in the past year. That number fell to 15% for children who said many people respect their pronouns and to 10% for children for whom most or all people respect their pronouns.
“Non-binary” is a generic term that refers to anyone who is not strictly male or strictly female. Non-binary youth can also describe themselves as gender non-conforming, genderfluid, genderqueer, androgynous, agender, demigirl, demiboy, genderflux and / or bigender. Half of non-binary youth consider themselves transgender. Non-binary rates are comparable across races, according to the survey.
More and more young people feel comfortable identifying themselves as non-binary. Of the 34,759 LGBTQ youth aged 13 to 24 who were included in the survey, one in four said they were not binary. Another in five wonder if they are. Because there is an estimate nearly 2 million LGBTQ youth between the ages of 13 and 17 in the US, that means there are plenty of non-binary kids out there who don’t get the respect and support they deserve.
Non-binary people can use any pronoun, but a third of the young people surveyed exclusively use their pronouns. Only 3% use it and 2% use it. Many use combinations of pronouns, such as she / they, he / they or she / they. Some also use pronouns outside of these three, such as ze / hir and e / em. Five percent exclusively use these types of pronouns, called neopronoms.
“Young people use a variety of languages to describe nuances of their gender identity outside of the binary construction of gender,” said Jonas DeChants, Research Scientist for The Trevor Project and Postdoctoral Fellow for Inclusive Excellence and Disparities in Health and Well-Being at Colorado State University. “These data highlight that while there is certainly an overlap, young people understand ‘transgender’ and ‘non-binary’ as distinct identity terms – and you cannot assume their identity simply based on the pronouns they have. they use.”
Young people interviewed said that the best way for others to offer them support and joy in their non-binary gender is to use their correct name and pronouns. One person said, “It makes me extremely happy when people respect and use my correct pronouns, and I could literally cry for joy. Another frequently reported source of happiness was having a strong relationship with family.
“These findings underscore the need for policies that assert non-binary youth in their identity, for example by respecting their pronouns and allowing them to change their name and gender on legal documents such as driver’s licenses and birth certificates. “said DeChants.
Non-binary people have always existed in various cultures, but now they are increasingly represented and accepted in popular culture. Despite this, many are often abused. It can be difficult for adults who haven’t grown up knowing non-binary identity and gender-neutral pronouns to start using them. But making the effort is not only worth it, but is absolutely necessary when it reduces the risk of a child attempting suicide.
So practice, practice, practice, in your head or out loud, so that you can get the names and pronouns of non-binary people correctly and support the non-binary children and adults that you will almost certainly meet. One day.