An Instagram bio can be many things: a joke, a movie reference, a list of all the places you've "lived" (read: studied abroad). It can even be a song lyric or a quote you find inspiring. But if you’ve ever quietly wondered to yourself, “what does she/her mean in an Instagram bio?” while scrolling your feed, you’re not alone.
Our lexicon for gender expression has adapted and expanded rapidly over the last several years as more and more people become less and less comfortable with existing gender binaries. In the digital age, it's not uncommon to see a person’s pronouns listed in their Instagram bio — just this year, the app even added a field to the “Edit Profile” section specifically for users to enter their pronouns.
"Stating your preferred pronouns in your Instagram profile can eliminate the hassle and the headache of trying to police and remind individuals," Lola Jean, sex educator and mental health professional, tells Elite Daily. "By stating this ahead of time, you’re giving them information they can be conscious of from the get-go." Of course, no matter who is in your DMs, putting your pronouns in your bio can let all your followers know what language they should use when interacting with you. Misgendering, or using the wrong pronouns for someone, can be very painful. Establishing your pronouns on your page can be a neon light of sorts to (hopefully) remind people how to refer to you in a way that makes you feel safe, comfortable, and seen.
Read on for everything else you’ve ever wanted to know about putting your pronouns in your bio.
How Do You Add Your Pronouns To Your Instagram Bio?
In 2021, Instagram made it even easier to update your profile with your pronouns. Make sure you have the latest version of the app downloaded on your phone. When you tap “Edit Profile” you’ll see a field beneath your name that says “Pronouns.” Enter yours there and make sure to hit “Done” to save. You can also check out this guide to updating your pronouns on IG for the best tips and tricks.
What Are The Benefits Of Sharing Your Pronouns On IG?
For Sawyer Stephenson, Junior Editor at GLAAD and intern at Freedom Oklahoma, putting your pronouns in your Insta bio can be a tool for protection against misgendering. "As an AFAB [assigned female at birth] non-binary person who has not undergone any medical transition and whose gender is not on the binary spectrum at all, I get misgendered a lot," Stephenson says. "Since most people just assume that I am a woman, it has become a point of safety to include my pronouns when introducing myself. Simply put, people include their pronouns on their Instagram bio because it lets their followers know how to refer to them."
Publicly sharing your pronouns can be a great way to inform your followers about the language they need to be using when speaking to or about you. And while pronoun sharing may often be associated with trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming folks, Stephenson attests that anyone can partake in the practice. "The most significant thing about publicly sharing pronouns is that it helps to normalize it," Stephenson says. "Further, when cisgender people share their pronouns publicly, it can help transgender individuals feel safer and more welcome in a social or workplace environment." If you’re cisgender, this is an easy way to show support for LGBTQ+ communities.
Should You Include Your Pronouns If You’ve Never Been Misgendered?
If you've never been asked your pronouns and the thought of sharing them publicly feels very foreign, there are tons of resources available online to understand more about the practice. For those of us who may be feeling a little fuzzy on how to handle pronouns, a quick Google search will yield some awesome and accessible reading (including this handout from Bryn Mawr titled "Asking For and Using Pronouns Making Spaces More Gender Inclusive" — a personal fave). Doing some research on your own time will take pressure off your trans loved ones to fill you in on gender in all its forms, and it will show your trans loved ones that you want to support them.
For many cisgender folks, pronouns are a non-issue. Many cisgender people have not had to deal with the pain and awkwardness of being misgendered. But being open and explicit about your pronouns isn't always about you. It’s a tool for others to know how to interact with you, and a way to support trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming folks who prefer to share their pronouns. "Stating your pronouns may feel like overkill if you feel like it’s obvious how people may view your gender. But stating your own gender pronouns isn’t only for you — it’s for others," Jean says. "By normalizing the sharing of preferred pronouns it will be less odd when anyone shares them regardless of gender identity."
If publicly sharing pronouns is new to you, putting your pronouns in something like your Instagram bio can be a low-key way to introduce your followers to the idea, as well. Seeing your pronouns listed may prompt your friends and family to do their own research about gender. “Putting my pronouns on social media is not only an extension of myself and my values, it’s also a way for me to invite in other folks who may or may not be familiar with the concept," Ariel Bustamante, Training & Coaching Manager of Children, Youth & Family Services at the Los Angeles LGBT Center says. "There is a lot that we communicate about ourselves online, and a lot that people may assume about others solely on what they see. Listing my pronouns normalizes the conversation and cuts through some of those potential assumptions.”
Inviting your followers to learn about gender, or "calling in," can be a great way for people working toward allyship to teach others about supporting trans people. Cis people actively encouraging other cis people to learn about gender can also be a great way to continue to take pressure off trans people to constantly educate all of those around them, and to build representation of gender inclusivity.
Of course, when it comes to your pronouns, you never need to feel pressure to share, regardless of your gender. If you're a trans/non-binary person and publicly sharing your pronouns feels like outing yourself in a way you're not comfortable with, or if you're not interested in sharing your pronouns with your internet following, Stephenson asserts that it is OK to share or not share your pronouns in any way that feels comfortable to you. "Anyone who says any different is wrong," Stephenson says. Sharing pronouns can be an intimate conversation, and it's important to navigate the practice in whatever way makes you and those around you feel comfortable. If someone uses different pronouns in different spaces (like he/him around family and they/them among friends), if someone's pronouns changed over time, if someone is actively transitioning, or if for whatever reason publicly sharing pronouns may not feel comfortable, it's OK to keep your pronouns to yourself.
Sharing your pronouns in your Instagram bio can be a great way to inform your followers about how they should refer to you. Normalizing the practice can help educate people about gender, and provide support for trans/non-binary folks. Of course, when it comes to pronouns, you have agency in how you want to proceed. And when it comes to putting your pronouns on the web, you get to choose what you post and you get to choose what you #linkinbio.
Lola Jean, sex educator and mental health professional
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