Doctor On Demand Blog

What are gender pronouns?

Pronouns are often used to replace a proper noun (i.e. a name), and they are most commonly used when we refer to something as “he” or “she”.

Examples of pronouns: “I haven’t gotten my test results back from my doctor. He hasn’t even called!” He would be the pronoun.

The following table is an example of different pronouns someone may use. It’s important to keep in mind there are many other pronouns someone may prefer, so it’s important to ask someone before you assume any of the below are the right one.

Why are they important?

It’s very easy to assume a pronoun based on how someone looks or their name, and as you see above, pronouns often assign a certain gender. It’s important to know these assumptions are not always correct, and to some, may even be hurtful. When we assume a pronoun we can send a message that someone must look or act a certain way according to a specific gender.

For many individuals who are transgender, gender non-conforming, or non-binary, assumed pronouns may be offensive, feel wrong, and create discomfort/anxiety. Using the correct pronoun is a way to create an inclusive environment and show respect to another individual. Just like you wouldn’t want to be actively called by the wrong name or pronouns, assuming and calling someone else by the wrong pronoun is disrespectful.

How does gender identity tie to mental health?

Gender identity is someone’s innermost concept as male, female, both, or neither. The term “transgender” is an umbrella term for those whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.

Some people who are transgender experience “gender dysphoria”, which is psychological distress caused by the incongruence between their sex assigned at birth and their gender identity. Imagine waking up each day and feeling like you were in the wrong body and couldn’t escape. You’d probably avoid looking in the mirror and would maybe even stop going out with friends. You might also feel trapped, down, and frustrated.

Research has found those who are transgender have a higher rate of attempted suicide, self-harm, and experience more depression and anxiety. Research has also found these individuals are more likely to experience harassment and discrimination leading to mental health difficulties.

How can identifying and being inclusive of pronouns help with mental health?

When we use the wrong pronouns, ignore someone’s pronouns, or assume pronouns, it can send someone the message we don’t care about them or we do not take their identity seriously.

When individuals experience this daily it can lead them to feel down, hopeless, angry, nervous, less important, or even shame. A recent study found 42% of LGBTQ+ youth were seriously considering attempting suicide in the past year; however, those who had their pronouns respected attempted suicide at half the rate of those who did not.

Being inclusive and respectful of pronouns will help a person feel more confident, comfortable, and validated. This improves mental health.

About Doctor On Demand

At Doctor On Demand, we have a very diverse medical practice, which enables us to speak to a variety of patient needs. One of the things that we’re proud of is that 69 percent of our primary-care physicians are women, and 43 percent of our doctors are from different ethnic minorities. Within that category, 21 percent of our providers are African-American, compared to the national average of 5.7 percent. And among our behavioral health providers, 20 percent identify with the LGBTQ community.

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