By Alvi Ahmed (he/him), Minus18 Education Team

Language can play a huge role in fostering an accepting and inclusive home. It can also be a powerful way to show support for LGBTQIA+ children and youth in our lives.

Whether you’re the parent of a LGBTQIA+ child or simply trying to figure out how to explain the nuances of gender-inclusive language at home, here are a few tips and tricks to guide you.

Think beyond the binary               

From “Brotherboys” and “Sistergirls” in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture to “Two-Spirit” within Indigenous North American culture, gender diversity has existed in various communities throughout history.

However, the way the English language works can make it easy to assume there are only two genders — “male” and “female”.

While seemingly harmless, these dated binaries limit how we think and can silence or reject others’ gender identity and self-expression.

Adopting gender-inclusive language can be a great way to show allyship with trans and gender diverse people, and make the LGBTQIA+ people around you feel included, affirmed and celebrated for their identity.

Gender-inclusive language can help people around you feel included, affirmed and celebrated for their identity.

Normalise using pronouns 

A pronoun is a word that refers to either the people talking (I or you) or someone/something that is being talked about (like she, he, them, and this).

In terms of personal pronouns, while some people use “he/him” or “she/her”, some trans and gender diverse people may use “they/them” pronouns to affirm their gender, or some may even use a mix.

Calling someone by the name and pronouns they use is a way to respect their identity. And just as a person’s gender identity may change over time, it’s important to respect changes in pronouns, too.

Here are some easy ways you and your family can implement respectful pronoun use and gender-inclusive language:

  • Displaying or sharing your pronouns first can let others know you’ll respect theirs.
  • Instead of automatically reverting to “he” or “she” when you first meet someone, try to use “they/them” until you know their pronouns or have the opportunity to ask.
  • Try to spot the different ways gendered language manifests in conversation, and try using  gender-inclusive alternatives. For example, instead of saying “hey guys” to every group of people, try “friends”, “folks”, or “team”. For mums and dads, try using “parent” instead of mother and father.

Making mistakes

Lastly, it’s important to remember that anyone can slip up from time to time and making mistakes is okay. The best thing to do is apologise and be receptive to corrections.

While making a big deal out of a mistake can feel natural, it may not necessarily be helpful and might cause more discomfort or embarrassment. However, acknowledging the mistake privately and affirming that you accept and respect their gender identity can have a huge impact.

Here are some ways to approach it if you or your loved one makes a mistake:

  • “Sorry, I meant (insert pronoun), I’ll make sure that I get it right next time!”

“Thank you for reminding me, I’ll remember to use your pronouns correctly next time.”

For Pride 2021, Levi’s® is celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community and exploring the importance of learning and respecting proper pronoun use.

In collaboration with Minus18, an educational resource has been created to offer guidance on gender-inclusive language

The co-created resource provides simple tips that Aussies can use to bring empathyinclusion and empowerment into their daily lives and show allyship to the LGBTQIA+ community.