An Instagram bio can be many things: a joke, a movie reference, a list of all the places you’ve "lived" (read: studied abroad) with plane emojis or the red pin in between. It can even be a phrase you use to describe yourself (like, genderless cowgirl) or a quote you find inspiring. Regardless of your gender, in the digital age, it’s not uncommon to wonder if you should you put your pronouns in your Instagram bio. Instagram can be a cool way to share life updates and your bio can be a great place to share how you’d prefer others to refer to you.
"Stating your preferred pronouns in your Instagram profile can eliminate the hassle and the headache of trying to police and remind individuals," Lola Jean, sex educator and mental health professional, tells Elite Daily. "By stating this ahead of time, you’re giving them information they can be conscious of from the get-go." Of course, no matter who is in your DMs, putting your pronouns in your bio can allow all your followers know what language they should use when interacting with you. Misgendering, or using the wrong pronouns for someone, can be super painful. Establishing your pronouns on your page can be a neon light of sorts to (hopefully) remind people how to refer to you in a way that makes your feel safe and comfortable.
For Sawyer Stephenson, Junior Editor at GLAAD and intern at Freedom Oklahoma, putting your pronouns in your Insta bio can be a tool for protection against misgendering. "As an AFAB [assigned female at birth] non-binary person who has not undergone any medical transition and whose gender is not on the binary spectrum at all, I get misgendered a lot," Stephenson says. "Since most people just assume that I am a woman, it has become a point of safety to include my pronouns when introducing myself. Simply put, people include their pronouns on their Instagram bio because it lets their followers know how to refer to them." Publicly sharing your pronouns can be a great way to inform your followers about the language they need to be using when speaking to or about you. And while pronoun sharing may often be associated with trans/gender nonconforming/non-binary/otherwise not cis folks, Stephenson attests that anyone can partake in the practice. "The most significant thing about publicly sharing pronouns is that it helps to normalize it," Stephenson says. "Further, when cisgender people share their pronouns publicly, it can help transgender individuals feel safer and more welcome in a social or workplace environment."
If you’ve never been asked your pronouns or you’re not super up on the practice, sharing your pronouns may seem like a new concept. If you’re feeling a little fuzzy on how to handle pronouns, a quick Google search can show you some awesome and accessible reading (like this handout from Bryn Mawr titled "Asking For and Using Pronouns Making Spaces More Gender Inclusive" — a personal fave). Doing some research on your own time can take pressure off your trans loved ones to fill you in on gender in all its forms. It can be a really special way to show your trans loved ones that you want to support them.
If pronouns have never affected your life, it’s understandable that you wouldn’t be used to sharing them publicly, but being open about your pronouns isn’t always about you. It can be a tool for others to know how to interact with you, and a way to support trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming folks who prefer to share their pronouns. "Stating your pronouns may feel like overkill if you feel like it’s obvious how people may view your gender. But stating your own gender pronouns isn’t only for you — it’s for others," Jean says. "By normalizing the sharing of preferred pronouns it will be less odd when anyone shares them regardless of gender identity."
If publicly sharing pronouns is new to you, putting your pronouns in something like your Instagram bio can be a low-key way to introduce your followers to the idea, as well. Seeing your pronouns listed may prompt your friends and family to do their own research about gender. “Putting my pronouns on social media is not only an extension of myself and my values, it’s also a way for me to invite in other folks who may or may not be familiar with the concept," Ariel Bustamante, Training & Coaching Manager of Children, Youth & Family Services at the Los Angeles LGBT Center says. "There is a lot that we communicate about ourselves online, and a lot that people may assume about others solely on what they see. Listing my pronouns normalizes the conversation and cuts through some of those potential assumptions.” Inviting your followers to learn about gender, or "calling in," can be a great way for allies to teach other allies about the way to support trans people. Cis people actively encouraging other cis people to learn about gender can also be a great way to continue to take pressure off trans people to constantly educate all of those around them, and to build representation of gender inclusivity.
Of course, when it comes to your pronouns, you never need to feel pressure to share, regardless of your gender. If you’re a trans/non-binary person and publicly sharing your pronouns feels like outing yourself in a way you’re not comfortable with or if you’re not interested in sharing your pronouns with your internet following, Stephenson asserts that it is OK to share or not share your pronouns in any way that feels comfortable to you. "Anyone who says any different is wrong," Stephenson says. Sharing pronouns can be an intimate conversation, and it’s important to navigate the practice in whatever way makes you and those around you feel comfortable If someone uses different pronouns in different spaces (like he/him around family and they/them among friends), if someone’s pronouns changed over time, if someone is actively transitioning, or if for whatever reason publicly sharing pronouns may not feel comfortable, it’s OK not to engage with publicly sharing pronouns.
Sharing your pronouns in your Instagram bio can be a great way to inform your followers about how they should refer to you. Normalizing the practice can help educate people about gender, and provide support for trans/non-binary folks. Of course, when it comes to pronouns, you have agency in how your want to proceed. And when it comes to putting your pronouns on the web, you get to choose what you post and you get to choose what you #linkinbio.
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