For Francophonie Month, the Pride Centre is working to help University of Ottawa students learn about gender-neutral pronouns in French. Using gender-neutral pronouns can help provide a safe, welcoming, and inclusive space for individuals of all gender identities! Last week we focused on gender neutral adjectives for describing people, and this time we are going to emphasize on the use of correct pronouns when we are referring to someone.
An important point to discuss is the fact that these are not “prefered” pronouns. A person’s pronouns are part of their identity and it is not a choice. Next time when asking about someone’s pronoun, avoid saying “what are your preferred pronouns?” and try instead “what are your pronouns?”. This will make the other person more comfortable, and it helps to create a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone.
In French, people have begun to use the pronoun “iel” (and sometimes “ille”) to refer to a nonbinary person. Linguistically, these are a mix of “il” and “elle”, but they are not as of yet officially adopted into the French language by the Académie Française unlike the English singular “they”, which was added in the Myriam dictionary in 2019.
People who use “iel” may use either masculine or feminine adjective agreement, so it’s important to ask so that you use the right words to describe them, or look at last week’s post to find out how to avoid using gendered adjectives.
Below, you will find a table of the different pronouns that are now accepted by the community.
Neutre (aussi utilisé)
Cès personne est man coloc, je lo connais depuis qu’iel a choisi le siège à côté de moi en classe. Pour ma fête, iel m’a donné une peinture qu’iel a faite iel-même.
Using the correct pronoun for someone conveys a basic level of respect, and inclusivity. We should always ask before making an assumption, even if you think you are sure. Avoiding mistakes could make someone feel much more respected and comfortable. Next time try asking for someone’s pronoun before having a conversation or talking about them!
For more information, check out this document!