You thought you were done with grammar lessons but here we are talking about pronouns. The idea of using our pronouns at Countryside Church UU (CCUU) pre-dates Rev. Denise’s arrival. In fact, Rev. Hilary was a huge proponent of using pronouns. Rev. Denise is supporting a practice that many congregants and staff have requested as it makes them feel welcome. More importantly, it is an outward sign that we are Welcoming. Our Congregation has been working on how we welcome people for a long time. It is a tenet of our faith, and using appropriate pronouns is a small step toward respecting people’s gender identity and creating a more welcoming space for people of all genders. In fact, we took a much larger leap towards respect when we designated a gender-neutral bathroom.

Trans-people’s identities are invalidated when they are treated separately. If we all use our pronouns, then we aren’t singling out those who may be transgender or gender non-binary. We understand it makes some people uncomfortable. This is not a directive or a policy. This is an invitation to consider doing something welcoming. It is also an invitation to consider how uncomfortable it must be to feel separate and different every day, in every situation and every interaction.

For most of modern history, trans and gender nonconforming people have been treated as freakish, deviant, mentally unwell, and criminal. We as people of faith, are trying to follow what growth-oriented churches are doing by helping Countryside be a place that welcomes all of us who have felt like an outsider in one way or another. One way to do that is to make pronoun use common in the culture of the church.

Again, this isn’t a mandate or a policy. Only use your pronouns if you are comfortable. However, if you aren’t, we would only ask that you look inside and examine what about it makes you uncomfortable? Is it because it is new? Is it because you are worried about what has been portrayed in the media about people who are transgender? Or are you afraid you will do it wrong? All your fears are valid. That being said, we can’t change or grow until we confront our fears, and that takes time.

The theme of the month is Courage, and this may be a great place to start.