A big step in the recognition of gender identity on social media was launched this week when Instagram released a new update that allows for users to add their pronouns on their profiles.
The new feature, which was announced Tuesday, gives users the option to share up to four pronouns from the pre-approved list of common pronouns such as he, she, they, ze, among others.
Pronouns can be added, edited, and removed at any time. Users can also fill out a form to have a pronoun added if it is not included. Instagrammers can also determine if they want the pronouns shared with their followers only or publicly on Instagram. Users under the age of 18 will have their pronouns automatically set to private.
Prior to this update, users who wanted to share their pronouns, did so in the traditional bio section which is currently restricted to 150 characters.
Apps like Grindr, Scruff, and Tinder have allowed users to display their preferred pronouns for some time. Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, released the displaying of pronouns in 2014, although it only allows “he/him” “she/her” “they/them” pronouns. In 2019, rideshare app, Lyft, allowed riders to share their pronouns.
The company announced the pronoun feature will first be available only in a few countries, USA, UK, Canada and Australia. No word on when it will expand.
ICYMI: now you can add pronouns to your profile💜
Add up to 4 pronouns and edit or remove them any time. You can also choose to display pronouns to only people who follow you. pic.twitter.com/KRc76qm5vZ
— Instagram (@instagram) May 12, 2021
Recently, GLAAD released the Social Media Safety Index, which details data that reinforces that LGBTQ+ individuals are not safe using social media networks. The report urges decision makers and policy leads at social media platforms to act immediately to improve social media safety for LGBTQ+ people and for other historically marginalized groups.
The Social Media Safety Index reads, in part:
On the one hand, LGBTQ individuals are vulnerable to hate speech and other manifestations of online homophobia, biphobia and transphobia—acts which have very real offline impacts and harms.. On the other hand, we are also vulnerable to censorship and disproportionate limitations of free expression related to our identities.
Using a preferred pronoun is not exclusive to members of the LGBTQ+ community, however. You often see allies using their preferred pronouns to show that reality of varying gender identities should be normalized in all circles. People in academia and professional settings are using pronouns in email signatures, Zoom meetings, business cards, and beyond, to show that while they may or may not be a part of the LGBTQ+ community, they acknowledge that gender is a construct placed in the human mind based on social practice. It validates others and tells them that we see them and stand with them.
Now, on social media, in a place that has possibly the most access to information, preferred pronoun representation may not seem like a lot to many, but it is a tremendous stride in the fight for equity in and out of the LGBTQ+ community.
So, Instagram users–will you be adding your preferred pronouns to your profile?