Instead of having users take up limited character space in their bio, Instagram is now letting them select their pronouns in a specific section of their profile.
Users can choose from a variety of pronouns including he/him, she/her and they/them. Once selected, their pronoun preference will appear in small gray letters next to their username.
“They” is often used as a singular pronoun for a person “whose gender is intentionally not revealed” or “to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary,” according to Merriam-Webster, which selected “they” as word of the year in 2019.
The company said the new pronoun feature is currently only available in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia but added that there are “plans for more.”
By Tuesday evening, the feature appeared to be working on many United States-based profiles.
Instagram isn’t the only platform making changes to allow people to choose their preferred pronouns. After President Joe Biden took office in January, WhiteHouse.gov updated its contact form to include gender-inclusive pronouns and prefixes. The move was praised by leaders in the LGBTQ community at the time.
“Pronouns matter, and adding inclusive pronouns to a contact form is more than just a demonstration of allyship,” GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement sent to TODAY in January. “Research has shown that recognition and respect of our pronouns can make all the difference for our health and wellbeing — especially when it comes to LGBTQ youth.”
One in four LGBTQ youth use pronouns or pronoun combinations that “fall outside of the binary construction of gender,” LGBTQ suicide prevention organization The Trevor Project found in a 2020 study.
“The results show that although LGBTQ youth are using pronouns in nuanced ways, the majority who use pronouns outside of the gender binary use either familiar pronouns or combinations of these familiar pronouns to express their gender,” the study said. “An individual’s pronoun expression, or even the decision to avoid them altogether, is a very important reflection of a person’s identity. Respecting pronouns is part of creating a supportive and accepting environment, which impacts well-being and reduces suicide risk.”
Instagram’s move on Tuesday seemed widely celebrated on social media — and many users encouraged other social media sites to follow suit.
“Love the fact that Instagram has included the option to put pronouns in our profile and not just in the bio! I hope we see this feature added on all socials,” Mica Burton, actor and daughter of LeVar Burton, posted on Tuesday with a heart emoji.