THE inaugural Pronoun Lowdown workshop, held last Saturday, stimulated healthy discussion about how to address each other and, by doing so, show respect and give a feeling of inclusion.
Hosted by Chroma Initiative for LGBTQI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Takatapui, Queer/Question and Intersex people) and Miharo, the aim of the workshop was to help people understand the evolution of personal pronoun language and how to use them appropriately.
Miharo director Pauline Smith said her team had been talking about how people addressed each other with pronouns, such as he or she, and how people were not familiar with the broader gender or gender-neutral definitions.
As a result, the idea of the workshop was germinated and Ari Edgecombe, of Chroma, was approached about members co-hosting the workshop.
Ari, who co-led the workshop, described a pronoun as how “we refer to someone if we are not using their name”.
“You can’t tell what someone’s pronoun is by looking at them.
“Pronouns are a personal choice.”
Topics included gender-based stereotypes; non-gender-based terms, why it was important to use the correct pronoun, and how to ask people which pronoun they preferred to be called by, and included fun, interactive, entertaining exercises.
Workshop co-leader Beth Duffill-Brookes said the best way to decide which pronoun to use was to “assume nothing… just ask” the person.
“You don’t need to be the pronoun expert… you just need to be the ask expert,” Chroma member Amz Duffill-Brookes added.
“Personal pronouns are not just for the LGBTQI+ community, they are for everybody.”
Workshop organisers were happy with the number of attendees, the interaction and discussion, saying “it was highly likely more workshops would be held”.
“It was fun… and there has been a lovely vibe,” Mrs Smith said.
“This is a workshop everyone should be doing… I think it really helps people to understand diversity more.
“If leaders of organisations attended one of these workshops, the understanding would filter down and we would start to see change in organisations.”