Pronoun event sheds light on gender identity

Jacklyn Pellegrino, Staff Writer

The graphic promoted for the Pronoun Awareness Day event exemplified that ‘we’re all human.’ Graphic contributed by Jennifer Greene.

Quinnipiac University student Jennifer Greene hosted an event in the Mount Carmel Piazza March 4, to educate the community on gender identity and the proper use of pronouns.

Greene, a senior public relations and media studies double major, organized a Pronouns Awareness Day event with sponsors including the QU Culture, Gender and Sexuality Alliance, Student Government Association, Campus Life and The Office of Community Service.

“I have sponsors from different organizations, but I’ve really been the sole person behind all of this, which is crazy,” Greene said. “Today’s really weird for me, it’s all coming to life.”

Greene said that it all ties back to self-identity as a student at Quinnipiac.

“After COVID, I was questioning my own gender identity, and I had all these questions, and I didn’t really feel like I had many resources, and it actually led me to TikTok,” Greene said. “I found that I was getting a lot of answers from a random social media app and why can’t I find these answers anywhere else, besides the internet, on my campus.”

Katie Kelly, a graduate of the class of 2021 and Greene’s partner, started Pronoun Awareness Day last year as a project for a graduate course.

“I worked with a lot of nonprofits and did a lot of different projects to try to help people in the community so I wanted to make sure that I was doing something that would help the community,” Kelly said.

Kelly said Greene was the No. 1 reason for starting the event, as well as shining a “spotlight” on all of the questions people ask.

“A lot of our friends and family would ask so many questions about gender expression, gender presentation and gender identity and pronoun usage,” Kelly said. “At the time I was only identifying as a (cisgender) woman so I felt like I’m not the right person for this, yes I’m educated on it but you should be too. I think everyone should be whether they’re a (cisgender) or not.”

Sex and gender were two topics discussed at the event. Sex is assigned at birth and biological as opposed to gender, which is how a person expresses themselves. The significance of pronouns and gender identity and why they are connected was also discussed.

“It’s important that people recognize us for who we are,” said William Jellison, a psychology professor and an event panelist. “Pronouns are one example tonight, but our ethnic heritage, where we grew up, the sports team we identify with, you want others to see you as how you are. But if someone misgenders you, they are not seeing who you really are.”

Alyssa Arends, a sophomore political science major and event panelist, posed a question for the audience to consider regarding allyship.

“What does the community need versus what do I think that I need,” Arends said. “Good allyship is about centering the voices of those who are really affected. It is OK to ask questions and it is OK to make mistakes.”

Ace Ricker, community impact manager at the New Haven Pride Center, explained how people do not always have to answer others’ questions and how it may be beneficial to refer to someone else.

“If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t feel bad, just refer to someone who can give people information such as referring to New Haven Pride Center or to someone else who has had the experience,” Ricker said.

He said that the New Haven Pride Center is open Monday- Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and has plenty of resources.

There is a food pantry, a closet of free clothes, art exhibits and a variety of Zoom and in-person activities to attend in the future.

Panelists explained the complex relationship between gender identity and self-identity.

“We can’t even have the concept of femininity without masculinity, the two only exist because they are opposites of each other,” said Lauren Sardi, sociology and women and gender studies professor and event panelist said. “We know that’s not true. What’s important about this is when we have a relationship with everyone else in society, that interaction is very important for informing and validating that reconnection if you will.”

“I really liked hearing from different people’s perspectives, especially people who aren’t always on this campus,” said Gabrielle Anastasio, a first-year biochemistry major. “It was just really good to hear what other people thought about inclusivity on Quinnipiac and just in general it was really cool to hear from different people that you wouldn’t normally interact with.”

Haley Ruccio, a first-year film, television and media arts major said that the event was “extremely enlightening” and that it is so important to see the support system at Quinnipiac.

“Being able to be surrounded by a community of really accepting people who are all here to learn and educate themselves on pronouns and gender identity was extremely enlightening and exciting,” Ruccio said.

Greene said that the issues discussed are not “black and white,” but instead are “very broad and ever-changing.”

“I just want people to walk out of there knowing more than they did once they walked in,” Greene said. “I think if they walk out saying I learned something that’s awesome.”