From the collections of the People's History Museum
These badges all display pronouns. In grammar a pronoun is a word that can be used instead of a noun - like ‘it’ instead of ‘the table’ or ‘them’ instead of ‘the flowers’. Some languages, such as English, use gender specific pronouns (he/she, his/hers) and do not always have a gender neutral pronoun available. English has they/them, which can be used for any gender, but is most often used to indicate a plural. This lack of gender neutrality is problematic especially since writers and speakers have traditionally used ‘he/his’ when referring to a generic individual in the third person. This is known as ‘default male’.
The dichotomy of ‘he and she’ in English is also not inclusive of those who identify as trans including transgender, genderqueer or other non-binary genders. In the interests of inclusion and equality, attempts have been made to create new gender neutral pronouns.
Pronoun badges are a way of asking for preferred pronouns to be respected. Being misgendered can cause upset. When we meet someone new we can often make assumptions about their gender based on how we perceive them and how they appear. Pronoun badges can also help to open up conversations about gender and raise awareness of gender diversity. Increasingly people are communicating their preferred pronouns in other ways such as including it in their email signature.
These badges represent the very recent history of the LGBTQ+ communities in the UK and are part of an increasing public conversation about gender diversity and gender identity in the last 30 years. Asking for and offering preferred pronouns has only been become widely used in the UK in the last few years but there is evidence that people have moved between and beyond the strict binary of male and female genders for thousands of years.
|Credit||Images reproduced by permission of the People’s History Museum|