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How Instagram’s Pronouns Option Sets New Expectations

We love to see large companies reacting to the desires of their customers – especially in the name of respecting identities.    

A pretty common practice for many people when writing their Instagram bio is to include your name, general location, career title, and more recently, pronouns. For folks who don’t conform to traditional gender norms, this was a crucial practice to decrease the number of times they have to correct someone who misgenders them.    

This actually isn’t a new thing for social platforms – Applications such as Tinder, OkCupid were early adapters in allowing users to input gender pronouns. Facebook, has allowed users to share pronouns since 2014, and Lyft added the functionality within the app in 2019. Twitter has also announced that selecting pronouns will also soon be available on their platform. Instagram saw that this practice was becoming more and more common and beneficial. So, they decided to join in.    

Instagram recently rolled out a new update where individuals can select and showcase their pronouns on their profile right next to their name.    

Users can showcase a max of four pronouns selected from a list of dozens of options including she, he, they, ze, ve, and many others. If users want to request a pronoun that is not featured on the already-existing list, they can submit a form to Instagram with their request.   

While Instagram plans to improve and update the process going forward, it’s a great step forward in creating space for respecting genders.   

What does this new functionality do?   

  • Validates gender fluidity.   
  • Promotes respecting genders.   
  • Creates an opportunity for individuals to know other people’s pronouns off the bat, minimizing misgendering.  
  • Educate people who are not well-versed in the importance of respecting pronouns.   

Overall, it promotes respecting and celebrating your own identity while also respecting and celebrating others’.    

Instagram received nods of approval from many, and it was welcome news to the LGBTQ+ community. All this from a simple little selection box? It’s a win-win.   

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A post shared by GAY TIMES (@gaytimes)

How to add your pronouns to your profile   

Instagram makes it possible to showcase your pronouns to anyone who visits your profile or has the information only available to your followers.    

  • Tap your profile picture in the bottom right to go to your profile.   
  • Tap Edit Profile below your profile information, then tap Pronouns.   
  • Start typing your pronouns and select them from the results below.   
  • Tap next to Show to Followers Only to turn this setting on or off.   
  • Tap Done in the top right, then tap Done again to save your profile information.   

   

How does the Instagram pronouns functionality set expectations for other companies?   

Ok, so while you have a gender, your company probably does not. Why does this information matter to businesses?   

Because this is a company clearly stating that not only are all genders welcome and celebrated, users have the right to easily choose and show theirs to their audience. It is a huge step in normalizing sharing, and more importantly, accepting all pronouns.    

Bringing awareness to asking for, recognizing, and respecting pronouns will improve the overall digital representation of all users and customers.    

Instagram isn’t perfect – but this is a step in the right direction. It also sets the expectation that sharing pronouns is not an exciting addition, and instead more of a requirement. Now that this step has been taken by a corporation as large and far-reaching as Instagram, it gives other companies less space to ignore, disrespect, or be ignorant to the current best practices around respecting pronouns.   

How can your company respect pronouns?   

Whether you are a small company or a large corporation, there are many steps you can take to validate, celebrate, and respect pronouns.    

  • Lead by example. Suggest your team shares their pronouns on all platforms including social platforms, Zoom names, business cards, team web pages, email signatures, or anywhere you put your names.    
  • Create gender-inclusive options in your forms and surveys that ask for the submitter’s gender. Male/female doesn’t cut it anymore.    
  • Normalize asking for pronouns or stating your pronouns during meetings, presentations, get-to-know-you games, new employee onboarding, or any other time you or your team are talking to new people.   
  • Use gender-diverse imagery on your website and marketing materials. Showcasing gender-fluidity is a great way to maximize the number of people that relate to and feel seen by your digital footprint.   
  • Be willing to learn, make mistakes, and get it wrong before you get it right. For individuals who have never felt discomfort around pronouns, introducing gender-inclusive practices can feel clunky and awkward. But with practice, it will eventually feel as natural as asking for someone’s name.    

Creating business processes that respect pronouns will help your team, partners, customers, and followers feel more comfortable and welcome interacting with your brand. Interested in making your digital footprint a safe space for all genders? Reach out to our team! 

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