How to: gender, pronouns and working with LGBTQ couples

Can I be very British and grumble about the weather for a second?  I love the sunshine but, crikey it's hot and sleeping is problematic right now!  Remember to stay hydrated if you're shooting. 

Today I am excited to introduce the utterly brilliant Cassandra Zetta.  Cassandra specialises in working with LGBTQ+ couples and I am always hugely inspired by her passion for serving her clients and educating the wedding photographer community.  Today she'll be talking to us about gender and pronouns and we'll be sharing a follow up post about posing LGBTQ+ couples very soon.  

Cassandra believes in every human being’s right to love and be loved, and that all love needs to be celebrated.  We quite agree!  Over to Cassandra!

gender pronouns lgbtq wedding photography

Through sharing and guidance from my personal and professional experiences, I hope to change the course of the wedding industry so that it's fully inclusive for all couples.

Whether you have zero, little, or some knowledge of working with the LGBTQ+ community, you’re in the right place for whatever stage you’re at. Today I’ll be sharing important tips and the knowledge that I’ve learned through being a part of and working with the LGBTQ+ community.

GENDER

The LGBTQ+ community is comprised of a diverse range of people with varying sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.  Because I believe this understanding is the foundation to a beautiful relationship with your couples, we’ll start here.

Some facts to keep in mind: 

- Gender is a spectrum, with a wide range of identities.

- When working with new clients, it is important to be respectful and aware of your language.

Some of the most commonly used gender identities:

Cisgender: Those who, for the most part, identify with the sex/gender combo designated to them at birth.

Transgender/Trans: Those who, for the most part, do not identify with the sex/gender combo designated to them at birth. Some trans people are men and women, and some trans people are non-binary.

Non-binary: One whose sense of gender falls outside of solely 'male' or 'female'.  Non-binary is also used as an umbrella term for all sorts of different understandings of one’s gender.

A-gender: Those who do not see themselves as having a gender.

IMPORTANT: When meeting someone new, it’s best to listen for, and ask, how people identify themselves. Apply gender-neutral language until gender identities are clarified.

Example: Cisgender feminine-presenting bride is questioned about her future husband when dress shopping. This bride may have a soon-to-be husband, but she may not. Ask instead, “So, tell me about your fiancé(e)! What is their name? What are they like?” This will create a much more inclusive and open environment for her, and all customers. (Bonus: If said bride does have a future husband, this positive, open impression could still lead to future referrals for her LGBTQ+ friends and family.)

same sex wedding photography 

PRONOUNS

Pronouns (he, she, they, ze, etc.,) are a very important element of one’s identity.

HE/HIM/HIS — Use when the subject identifies as male.

SHE/HER/HERS — Use when the subject identifies as female.

THEY/THEIR/THEM — Use singularly as a gender-free / nonbinary pronoun.

ZE/ZIR/ZIS/ZIESELF — Commonly used alternative gender-free pronoun.

Unsure of the pronouns to use for a new client and/or the members in their wedding party?

1. Ask! “What pronouns do you use?” is a great way to inquire, showing attention and care.

2. Listen for how their partner/friends address them.

If their partner/friends uses she / he / they / ze, so should you.

Understanding gender can be difficult, and so, you may encounter family members that do not to use the correct pronouns. However, through your continued usage and support, not only will your couples and/or wedding party members appreciate you and feel accepted, it may help sway others to use the correct pronouns as well.

NOTE: All thoughts and views expressed within this blog series are my own.  These are not facts, but rather, opinions and recommendations based on my personal experiences.

If you have any questions for Cassandra about gender or pronouns, please ask in the comments!