Using the correct pronouns and chosen name for transgender and non-binary people is necessary

By Nadia Sanburn, Staff Writer

“Go ask her” and “She will help you” are common phrases heard by Alexander Elwell, a transgender freshman at LHS. Alex uses he/him pronouns and identifies as male. He frequently has to deal with people using incorrect pronouns to refer to him. This is also called misgendering. “It makes me feel really upset and not accepted,” he said. When people use the incorrect pronouns, Alex corrects them every time. He feels like his pronouns are respected “most of the time” at LHS. It’s important for the teachers and students of LHS, as well as people outside of the school, to make Alex’s “most of the time” into “all of the time.” Correct pronouns and chosen names aren’t optional, they’re necessary. Many studies show that using the correct pronouns and chosen name decreases depression and reduces suicide rates for transgender and nonbinary teens.

Transgender youths report having suicidal thoughts at twice the rate of their peers, and one out of three transgender youths considers suicide, according to a study done by The University of Texas at Austin. The study shows a dramatic difference in mental health for teens that are referred to by their chosen names and correct pronouns.

Researchers at the University found 71 percent fewer symptoms of depression, a 31 percent decrease in suicidal thoughts and a 65 percent decrease in suicidal attempts among the teens that were able to use their chosen names at work, school, home, and with friends. This is quite a significant difference. For what seems like small step, it really does make all the difference for trans and nonbinary people when someone refers to them correctly.

Steven T. Russell, the author of the study, said in the report that “Many kids who are transgender have chosen a name that is different than the one that they were given at birth. We showed that the more contexts or settings where they were able to use their preferred name, the stronger their mental health was.”