Uplift: Uplifting LGBTQ+ Experience Within and Beyond Unitarian Universalism

International Pronouns Day: Pronouns Education as Resistance

The UPLIFT logo that includes the UUA chalice in blue, pink, and white trans pride colors and UPLIFT, Uplifting the LGBTQ+ Experience Within Unitarian Universalism and Beyond. 

UPLIFT Trans Logo

UUA chalice logo in blue, pink, and white over a black background and a rainbow border; UPLIFT: Uplifting the LGBTQ+ Experience Within Unitarian Universalism & Beyond

By Shige Sakurai (they/them)

In November 2016, I was reeling. Donald Trump had just been elected. He had wreaked so much destruction just in the campaign cycle, it was hard to imagine his term in office. He was actively antagonizing to immigrants, to women, to disabled folks, to people of color.

In the two months leading up to Trump’s inauguration, I had a whole tornado of experiences. I attended the last transgender convening at the White House of the outgoing administration, a gloomy gathering where the only joy was spending time with other trans activists. Separately, my office building was vandalized by white supremacists emboldened by the political climate.

I was organizing professionals in my community to be prepared for the onslaught of policies, especially ones that we knew would immediately harm undocumented people. I attended a meeting of progressive advocates where people were talking about how this felt different than any typical political or social justice setback. Resources about genocide prevention were shared.

By inauguration weekend, my sense of powerlessness had grown. What could I, just one person, do – to make some shift, some small change? I was so tired of explaining my pronouns to people over and over again. I knew a lot about pronouns and how to explain why they matter. So, during the inauguration weekend, after attending a women’s solidarity march, I wrote down my thoughts about pronouns.

My writings became the Pronouns.org website, and the next year I founded International Pronouns Day, which occurs on the third Wednesday of October. I had no idea how much could spring forth from the simple act of writing down my thoughts, the act of doing the next thing that I could do, the next thing that felt possible.

Big things can happen in community, and with a mix of opportunity, luck, and effort, but sometimes a small action within one’s smaller realm of control can become something huge.

Join me this International Pronouns Day on October 18, 2023. Learn more and educate others about the importance of pronouns for trans/nonbinary folks, and for all people to offer more dignity and respect in and beyond our UU communities. Even seemingly “small” actions can generate great impacts.

About the Author

Shige Sakurai (they/them)

Shige Sakurai (they/them) serves as Director of Equity, Belonging, and Change at the Unitarian Universalist Association, a progressive religious denomination with over 1,000 congregations.


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