Our society is becoming more aware of gender, acknowledging that there are folks who identify outside the gender binary and the different ways we have been socialized based on gender. While we have made progress, creating social change is a slow process, and it doesn’t all happen linearly.

We are sharing 5 actions you can take to be more gender inclusive in your client practice, business, and everyday life.

Plus, at the end, we will let you know about our FREE 10 Ways To Be Gender Inclusive E-Book where you can get even more support in this area.

Let’s get to it!

1) Model Using Pronouns

It’s not always appropriate to ask someone what their pronouns are depending on the context. Thus, we believe that it’s more important to model the use of pronouns.

However, on client questionnaires, we DO recommend having a question that simple asks, “Pronouns” but is NOT required as some folks prefer not to use any pronouns for themselves or haven’t decided what their pronouns are. If someone leaves the pronoun line blank in a questionnaire, simply try to avoid using any pronouns when referring to them and use their name instead.

We recommend displaying your pronouns next to your name on your social media accounts, zoom, website, newsletters, and wherever useful.

Try not to assume what people’s pronouns are. How you perceive someone’s gender doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with how someone identities or what pronouns they use.

Please refrain from asking someone’s “preferred” pronouns as someone’s pronouns are not a preference. Remove “preferred” from your language and simply ask what someone’s pronouns are when appropriate.

So, how do you ask people’s pronouns?

Simply put, just ask and/or model by sharing your own.

If you are a coach, facilitator, teacher, or leader of any kind, get into the practice of on group calls, for example, to share their pronouns if they wish. For example, start with yourself, I am Cameron Airen and I use they/them pronouns.

Don’t ask what people’s “preferred” pronouns are since pronouns are not a preference.

Do ask, what pronouns people use when appropriate, but model first.

Do allow for people to use any kind of pronouns they want whether you have heard of it or not. Some people might have a pronoun that you’re not familiar with, and that’s okay. Some folks may not want to use any pronouns at all. In which case, you can use their name when referring to them and leave pronouns out of the equation altogether.

2) Use Gender-Free Language (Whenever Possible)

Language is how we communicate whether it’s verbally or through writing. This is why shifting our language is VITAL to social change.

It’s important to be aware of the gendered terms you use or don’t use, and to be in the practice of learning and unlearning. Unlearning gendered language, and being aware of the words you think in your mind and say out loud.

You can let go of any judgment and shame for yourself. It’s simply about bringing awareness to your thoughts and the words you use.

Pay attention to, for example, how often do you say, “Hey guys” to a group of folks who mostly identify as women. Pay attention to when you use gender binary language like, “Ladies and Gentlemen”, as another example.

If you’re still saying things like, “Hello Ladies and Gentlemen”, you are still reinforcing the gender binary, and are excluding someone. You are excluding people who do not identify as a “lady” or as a “gentleman”. Even people who you think look like “ladies”, for example, may not identify as such.

When you’re addressing a room of people, as another example, say, “Hey everyone” instead of gendering it. Shifting your gendered language is really that simple.

Be as gender-free as possible through your language.

Now, you will still use gendered language because that is what we’ve been conditioned to use. So, it’s not about getting it “perfect” or going from level 1 to level 10 overnight. It’s making shifts over time. But, it’s a practice that requires diligence and commitment. Being committed to shifting your gendered language will help you shift it faster and create sustainable change.

Just practicing shifting your gendered language once does not work. It’s a daily practice. And, one that you have to want to do if you want to be gender inclusive and move beyond the gender binary.

Again, you don’t have to engage in judgment or shame. It’s more about creativity and creating something different and new that is more inclusive to all of us. The more gender-free language we use, the more we can be free.

Giving people the opportunity to tell you who they are and using gender inclusive language is HUGE.

3) Questioning The Gender System Altogether

Being gender inclusive is NOT about fitting people into boxes. It’s NOT about accepting or tolerating people who may not look like you or identify the way you do. It’s NOT about checking a “diversity and inclusion” box or an “I’m being a good human” box.

That doesn’t actually create a more inclusive, free world. What that does is try to fit people into a system that was never created or designed for us and doesn’t allow ALL of us to be who we are.

It’s about questioning the gender system altogether. That is true freedom. Because as long as we have gender conditioning, none of us are free.

From the time we come out of the womb, we are labeled into one of two boxes: girl or boy. But, it’s not just a label. It’s a label with a whole set of expectations and norms attached to it telling you how and who you should be in the world.

We are taught what it means to be a “girl” and what it means to be a “boy” and these meanings differ from one another, but why? Why should they differ? What is the point? Why have gender conditioning? What purpose does it serve?

That is the system we encourage you to question. It’s not about continuing with the gender binary and just adding people into it to be “inclusive”, it’s about questioning that binary altogether.

It’s about using and developing your critical thinking skills, and questioning how we’ve been socialized and what we’ve been taught to believe about ourselves and about others. Which leads to the next way.

4) Reflect On Your Relationship To Gender

When you want to create social change, it’s not just about being inclusive and taking action, but it’s also about self-reflection.

Self-reflecting on your own relationship to gender will help you question the gender system and be a part of creating a new society and world that can work better for all of us and we can be more free.

What are the ways you have aligned with the gender that was placed upon you?

What are the ways you have NOT aligned with the gender that was placed upon you?

Don’t leave yourself out of the equation. Reflect on how this system has impacted you, how you have been affected by it, and what it has taught you too.

Gender affects all of us. We have all been conditioned to be a certain gender. Even if you identify as cisgender, gender still affects you, and this is something you can talk about. Everyone can talk about gender because everyone has been socialized to be a gender.

5) Be Aware Of Gender Socialization

Be willing to learn and unlearn how we have been socialized by gender. What are the expectations that have been placed upon you and others based on gender?

For example, studies have been done that show that we give baby “boys” less affection than baby “girls” because of what we’ve been taught about how “boys” should be in the world and what they “need”. This is gender socialization.

Often, we are not conscious of this conditioning. This is why continuously bringing our awareness to gender conditioning is so important. The more awareness we have, the more opportunity we have to stop gender conditioning and create something more freeing for all of us.

Give yourself this awareness and knowledge.

Want to learn more? Want to continue to increase your gender awareness and knowledge, and learn how you can implement it into your life?

Access our FREE e-book called 10 Ways to be Gender Inclusive today.

We also have several classes in the Feminist Coach Theory Training that go deeper into gender conditioning, and how you can move beyond the gender binary in your client practice, business, and life.

Interested? Join us HERE.

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