Asking my Jewish community to use my new set of pronouns was frightening yet liberating.
“When I first came out as transgender, asking my Jewish community to use my new set of pronouns (he/him and they/them) was frightening yet liberating. Pronouns are very small words, but they’re such a large part of our identities. That’s why I appreciate moments when everyone is given the chance to introduce themselves and their pronouns. Before Shabbat services at Ithaca College Hillel each Friday, students say their name along with their pronouns. Informing others about which pronouns we use allows every single one of us — not only transgender people — to have the power of self-determination. For trans people, being the only person in a room to say their pronouns can sometimes be seen as a marker of transness. But when everyone says their pronouns, we start to build inclusive, welcoming communities. That’s why International Pronouns Day is so important. Teaching others to respect a person’s pronouns will raise awareness in our Jewish community about respecting everyone’s identity.” — Luis Jaime Valderrama, Ithaca College