Matter

Weddings are meant to be a day full of fun, love, and celebration for everyone to enjoy! But nothing kills a party vibe like some casual transphobia. Though misgendering has no place in the midst of such joyous festivities, the traditional language of matrimony leaves much to be desired on that front. Hence the growing need for more gender-neutral wedding terms.

Pronouns

Trans-friendly Communication for Beginners: Gendered Language and Pronouns

Language is powerful. We’ve all had those days when just one wrong word can send us into a total downward spiral, and when it comes to someone’s identity this can be a particularly prickly subject. Depending on your own personal experience of privilege and/or marginalisation, it can be hard to recognise when one wrong word, phrase or pronoun could totally upend someone’s day. Pronouns, in particular, have been an increasingly hot topic as anti-trans rhetoric continues to spread across the globe despite (or maybe even due to) an increasing number of people identifying as trans.


Though only 0.4% of folks in the UK currently identify as trans or gender nonconforming, when focusing on the LGBTQ+ community that figure rises considerably to 6.9%. To put these figures into perspective, that translates to almost 300,000 people who don’t identify with the gender they were assigned at birth in one way or another. Whether you’re a business owner looking to attract a more diverse group of clients or just someone who wants to be a good ally to the trans community, educating yourself on gender is a must. And we’ve got you covered.

The term gender used to be used as essentially a synonym for one’s biological sex, but as language is always changing, this usage has long since been outdated. Today, gender refers to a person’s internal experience of their own identity as it aligns with (or doesn’t align with) society’s perceptions of man, woman or other. This is sometimes, but not always, expressed outwardly through gender presentation, but it’s essential to keep in mind that you can’t definitively see gender. Gender is all about what’s happening on the inside for each and every individual, so you can’t really know until someone tells you.

 

Here are some key terms to know so you’re ready when they do:

 

Cisgender:
Someone whose gender identity matches with the sex they were assigned at birth, for example, a man who was assigned male at birth or a woman who was assigned female at birth.


Transgender:
Someone whose gender identity does not align with the sex they were assigned at birth, for example, a woman who was assigned male at birth or a nonbinary person who was assigned female at birth.


Gender Nonconforming:
Anyone who doesn’t conform to the binary of either man or woman. Not all gender-nonconforming people identify as trans, but many do. Once again, it all comes down to the individual. Examples include nonbinary, genderqueer, bigender and genderfluid.


Assigned Gender at Birth (AGAB) / Sex/:
This is basically whatever the doctor wrote on your birth certificate on the line marked sex. Though biological sex is not actually as binary as we’ve been taught to believe, this typically refers to a person’s sex as defined by their chromosomes, hormone production and reproductive organs. Examples include male, female and intersex. Additionally, AMAB (assigned male at birth) and AFAB (assigned female at birth) are common subterms.

press to zoom
1/1
press to zoom
1/1
press to zoom
1/1

Pronouns, like gender, are a very personal thing and you can’t just assume someone’s pronouns based on how they look or even how they identify. Not all feminine people use she/her and not all masculine people use he/him! Some trans people even use multiple sets of pronouns, such as he/they, they/she or even he/she/they. In any case, it’s best to either ask or do your own research to see how to refer to the person properly. Depending on the setting, it can be helpful (especially as a cisgender person) to offer up your own pronouns when introducing yourself, so others can feel comfortable sharing theirs, in return. Or a polite, “May I ask what your pronouns are?” is a great go-to.


Most of us are already familiar with how to use basic she/her and he/him pronouns, but what really seems to trip people up are they/them pronouns. However, as nonbinary activist Jeffrey Marsh shared, you’re probably already using them without even realizing it! To put it simply, all you have to do is replace he/she with they and him/her with them, and then conjugate the sentence as you would normally.

 

For example:
He went to the store. → They went to the store.
Her outfit is really cute! → Their outfit is really cute.
She is an amazing artist. → They are* an amazing artist.
*This is the one thing that tends to trip people up. When using “they” as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun, you should still conjugate the verb in the plural form.


Though he/she/they are the most commonly used pronouns, some trans people do use neopronouns, such as xe/xem/xeir and ze/zir/zirs. We won’t be digging into those now, but just know that they all still tend to follow the same usage and conjugation rules as above.

What To Do if You Misgender Someone

Despite the best intentions, mistakes are pretty much inevitable. And that’s just fine! Even cispeople can be misgendered; we all fumble over our words and sometimes the wrong pronoun just slips out no matter who you’re talking to. However, no one feels the need to over apologise about it unless the person they’re speaking with is trans. That’s when things can start to get uncomfortable.


Oftentimes, when a cis person accidentally misgenders a trans person it is followed by an outpouring of guilt-ridden apologies. You may think that’s the right move, but this just puts the trans person in the awkward position of having to comfort the person who may have just hurt their feelings. Trans people shouldn’t have to do the emotional labour of absolving a cis person of their transgression.


If (and when) you catch yourself misgendering someone, the best thing to do is to acknowledge it without making a big deal of things. Just apologise, correct yourself, and move on. For example: “Oh, he’s the best – sorry, they’re – the best baker in the family.” It only has to be a big deal if you make it one. Alternatively, if you don’t catch yourself before someone has the chance to correct you, we recommend: “Sorry, thanks for correcting me,” as an ideal response.


If you’ve never had to think about gender or transness before, we know this may feel like a lot to wrap your head around, but don’t stress! Nobody expects you to be a gender identity and pronoun expert all at once. Ultimately, it’s all about being respectful, communicative, and open to learning something new.


Plus, if you’re reading this it means you’re already on the right track!

Written for G Wedding Directory by Rhys

Wedding Designer /Wedding Planner @hiresocieties
Workshop @Diversityweddingworkshops                                 
Partnership @gweddingdirectory

Photographer: @danielmicephoto
Venue @barnetthillhotel
Couple @life.beforebabies
Stylist @electricloversweddings
Hair @ocassionhairbymegan
MUA @sophiefalinskimakeup
Wedding Dress @bridalindulgence
Suit @boohoo
Jewellery @lguessjewellers
Flowers @budandflower_
Floral Assistant @brambles_and_twine
Fiat 500 @fiat500hire

press to zoom
1/1
 
Gender Neutral Wedding Terms To Make Your Big Day Welcoming To All

Weddings are meant to be a day full of fun, love, and celebration for everyone to enjoy! But nothing kills a party vibe like some casual transphobia. Though misgendering has no place in the midst of such joyous festivities, the traditional language of matrimony leaves much to be desired on that front. Hence the growing need for more gender-neutral wedding terms.

Traditional wedding wording is fraught with gendered terms that exclude trans and other gender-nonconforming folks. Though only 0.4% of people in the UK identify as gender nonconforming when focusing on the LGBTQ+ community that figure rises considerably: 6.9%. And either way, that is still hundreds of thousands of people who deserve to be included in the wonderful world of weddings!

Whether you’re a wedding vendor looking to broaden your scope of clients or a nearly wed planning a trans-friendly big day, we’re sharing some gender-neutral wedding terms that are sure to do the trick.

But first…

Pronouns Matter G Wedding Directory
press to zoom
Pronouns Matter G Wedding Directory
press to zoom
Pronouns Matter G Wedding Directory
press to zoom
1/2

If you’re new to gendered terminology, this may already seem like a lot, so let’s take a step back and talk about gender in general. Here’s how we define it in our gender-neutral language overview:

 

“The term gender used to be used as essentially a synonym for one’s biological sex, but as language is always changing, this usage has long since been outdated. Today, gender refers to a person’s internal experience of their own identity as it aligns with (or doesn’t align with) society’s perceptions of man, woman or other.”

 

As far as what it has to do with weddings, well, a lot. Because weddings are so deeply steeped in traditional cis and heteronormative ideals, the language surrounding them is, too. Once you know what to look for, it’s clear to see that almost every single role of a wedding from the bride all the way down to the flower girl, is gendered. (Love a good usher though, anyone can be an usher.) But other than your faithful usher of any gender, here are some more gender-neutral wedding terms that will help make anyone feel welcome.

1.  Partner(s) or Significant Other(s)

Use in place of boyfriend or girlfriend.

 

These are two terms you’ve almost certainly heard before, but we’d be remiss not to add them here! We recommend using these terms for folks who are not yet married or engaged, to be most specific. However, the term partner can also refer to a couple in a civil partnership, so do keep that in mind.

2.  Nearlylywed or To-be-wed

Use in place of the bride or groom-to-be.

 

Nearlywed or to-be-wed are both terms that have cropped up in the past few years in online wedding publications as gender-neutral language has become much more commonplace. We love the idea of using a simple twist on the classic wedding term “newlywed” to make these terms instantly recognizable even for folks who haven’t heard them used before.

3.  Fiance or Betrothed

Use in place of fiancé or fiancée.

 

You may not realize that the term fiancé is, in fact, gendered. Though they’re both pronounced the same, “fiancé” is masculine whereas “fiancée” (with an additional e) is feminine. If spelling it out, skip the accent aigu and leave the gendered language to the French. For another alternative, “betrothed” does the same job with a little flair for the dramatic.

press to zoom
1/1
press to zoom
1/1

4.  Newlywed or Spouse
Use in place of husband or wife.

Once again, these two terms are already in pretty common usage as alternatives to husband or wife. The choice simply depends on how recently the spouses have been married. See? Gender-neutral language isn’t too tough, you’re probably already using it without even realizing it half of the time!

 


5.  Sten or Fox Party
Use in place of stag or hen parties.

We know people are unlikely to be thinking too deeply about their word choice while they’re partying it up one last time as unmarried folks, but nonetheless, the options exist! Sten is simply a combination of the classic “stag” or “hen,” so that can be a more familiar option to use. Though sometimes it does refer to a combined celebration including the entire wedding party if that’s more your vibe. However, if you’d rather stay within the animal kingdom, “fox” is the way to go!. We’re not exactly sure why “fox” has somehow become the go-to gender-neutral do, but it’s pretty dang cute.

 


6.  Wedding Attendants or Honour Attendants
Use in place of bridesmaids or groomsmen.

Seriously, who decided that brides and grooms could only have close friends that are the same gender as them? In terms of gender-neutral wedding terms, these two were long overdue. Rather than worrying about separate bridesmaids and groomsmen, it’s both easier and more inclusive to just call anyone in your wedding party “attendants.” Win-win!

7.  Chief Attendants
Use in place of chief bridesmaid, maid of honour or best man.

For those wedding party members who are being honoured as a cut above the rest—and are usually in charge of a lot more wedding-related duties—simply tack on the word “chief” for attendants of any gender to denote their important role in the big day.

 


8.  Junior Attendants, Flower Child/Bearer or Pages
Use in place of flower girl or page boy.

If there are any little ones being involved in the responsibilities of the big day, they deserve a title, too! We like the simplicity of simply using “junior attendants” for them all; it’s a nice way to make the kids feel more included with the grown-up attendants. However, if you’d like to denote their specific roles flower child, flower bearer, or page are all valid options. That said, keep in mind that the term “flower bearer” is currently used more in funeral processions, but we included it as a solid alternative to  “flower child,” just in case that was a bit to hippie dippy for some folks’ taste.


9.  Parent, Guardian or Caregiver
Use in place of mother or father of the bride or groom.

There are so many time-honoured wedding traditions that involve a couples’ moms and dads, but there’s no need to split them up by gender when you can just say parent for both! Furthermore, guardian or caregiver are especially inclusive titles to use, because you never know what someone’s family life is like. They may be honoring another relative or even a close family friend instead of a parent for whatever reason. Especially in LGBTQ+ weddings, because chosen family is such an crucial part of queer culture, caregiver can be a title used to honor someone’s importantce regardless of their role in raising someone in the traditional sense.

Pronouns Matter G Wedding Directory
press to zoom
Pronouns Matter G Wedding Directory
press to zoom
Pronouns Matter G Wedding Directory
press to zoom
1/2

Written for G Wedding Directory by Rhys

Photo credits: 

@lexflemingphoto for @thecanaryshed Couple: @meherwe

@daniellevictoriaphoto Couple: @adamski_47. + @benoboyo17⁣

Couple: @wild_in_love_babes Photography: @markhortonphotos Videographer: @HushabyeFilms

 

Photo credits: Real Couple @thosetwoqueerz Photographer @laurenmarchantphotography Concept & Planning @hiresocieties Workshop @Diversityweddingworkshops