OPINION – Preferred Pronouns: A New Awareness

The Trailblazer’s new approach to news reporting


Savannah Boone and Trey Van Natta

 Preferred Pronouns: A New Awareness

In today’s society, it is important to be aware of the growing change in how people identify themselves. More specifically, it is important to not assume one’s preferred pronouns or gender. 

According to the 2020-2022 edition of the Associated Press Stylebook, “language around gender is evolving.” The AP Stylebook is a reference book used by many journalists and news outlets, including The Trailblazer, with various guidelines for news writing. Society is evolving with this new language and it is important for people to recognize this. 

We interviewed Jennifer Hargus, counselor at Vincennes University, to gain perspective on the issue of preferred pronouns. Her preferred pronouns are she/her. 

“Using preferred pronouns shows respect and sends the more important message that you matter,” Hargus said. 

It’s important to educate the public that using preferred pronouns isn’t only about identity, but also about respect. Hargus said she believes that the use of preferred pronouns should be taught at a young age. It’s something that should be comfortably talked about and learned in all environments.

“ If you are speaking with someone and are unsure what pronoun they prefer, it’s okay to ask. The person on the receiving end will be thankful you thought of them enough to ask,” Hargus mentioned. 

“It is also important to stand up when you see someone being treated unjustly,” she added.

People may not understand or fear the change in society, but there is no reason not to be kind to one another. Hargus believes it’s easier to educate yourself than to live in a world where the LGBTQ+ community is not supported or respected.

If you are someone who struggles with identity, it’s okay to be confused. 

“Move at whatever pace you are comfortable with, this experience looks different on everyone,” Hargus added. “The biggest thing you can do is seek out the support from your fellow LGBTQ+ community.”   

In order to recognize this change in society, The Trailblazer has become aware to not assume someone’s pronouns. In order to spread this awareness, The Trailblazer has changed the way we conduct our interviews. 

What used to be called “The Big 4” has now been changed to “The Big 5.” As a journalist for The Trailblazer, one used to ask the student interviewee what their name, hometown, major, and contact information was. We’ve now changed it to name, preferred pronouns, hometown, major, contact info. 

Emily Taylor, Department Chair of Communication at VU, serves as the advisor to The Trailblazer. Taylor goes by the preferred pronouns of she/her/hers. 

“I think it is very important to ask about an individual’s pronouns,” Taylor mentioned, “Much like the spelling and pronunciation of one’s name, pronouns are a very important part of a person’s identity.” 

The awareness of an individual’s preferred pronouns has reached the professional community and it is common for one to see that someone may include their preferred pronouns in their signature block for social platforms like social media or email. 

“I think people are becoming more aware of the issue of preferred pronouns. There is always more education and more awareness that can be brought to the issue as it becomes more common to share preferred pronouns. For example, I have seen more professionals use their preferred pronouns in meetings as part of their name in Zoom meetings,” Taylor commented.

According to the Associated Press Stylebook, “not all people fall under one of two categories for sex and gender.” Newsrooms around the country are doing their part to work with the individuals that they interview and this helps to spread the awareness of acknowledging an individual’s preferred pronouns and using those pronouns correctly. 

“I think one of the best ways to spread awareness is to model inclusive behavior in our dealings with all people,” Taylor expressed, “I am glad that The Trailblazer student journalists are tackling this issue and bringing awareness to it through their reporting by asking about and using sources’ preferred pronouns.” 


The Trailblazer is a student run news publication made up of a small group of Journalism and Photojournalism Majors. It’s important for VU students to know that we can help create change in an ever-growing society.