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Pronouns And The Power Of Language With Dr. Suzy D’Enbeau

Communications expert Dr. Suzy D’Enbeau, who specializes in feminism and gender, joins Dr. Phil on the Phil in the Blanks podcast. They discuss why pronouns are important, the power of language, when to share age-appropriate information that is backed by science, and how we can communicate based on knowledge and not fear. Plus, learn about important mental health issues affecting transgender and gender-nonconforming communities – and where to find support.


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  • “Nobody wants to let anybody else speak.”

  • “It's important to present two sides of an issue or three sides or four sides or five sides.

  • “One of the things that I think you and I hold in common is that language is very powerful.”

  • “It's so important for people to understand that they program themselves mentally, physically, physiologically with the words they use.”

  • “I want my students to think for themselves.”

  • “People respond to issues, not topics.”

Show Notes:

00:07 -Introduction

02:10 -Dr. Phil gender pronoun episode got a lot of people talking.

11:03 -White privilege exists.

17:58 -People respond to issues not topics.

30:14 -What's the job of the educator and what's the job of the parents? How do you draw those lines?

51:41 -We do know that there is a higher incidence of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts and suicide in that particular community

1:02:58 -The National Center for the Transgender for Transgender Equality and PFLAG

01:04:15 -National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Hours: Available 24 hours. Languages: English, Spanish. Learn more


Get Connected & Let Dr. Phil Know What You Thought About The Episode:




Podcast Page: DrPhilintheBlanks

Suzy D’Enbeau (Ph.D., Purdue University) is an associate professor in the School of Communication Studies. She teaches courses in organizational communication, gender and communication, sex and communication, and qualitative methods.

Suzy has over 30 publications in three main areas. The first research area looks at how social change organizations navigate competing goals in a variety of contexts ranging from domestic violence prevention to transnational feminist organizing. A second area problematizes dominant ways of thinking about, constructing, and performing gender in different organizational contexts and in popular culture. A third research area unpacks some of the challenges of qualitative inquiry in terms of analysis and researcher identity. She is an associate editor of Management Communication Quarterly, and her work has appeared in leading journals such as Communication Monographs, Human Relations, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Journal of Management Inquiry, Qualitative Inquiry, and Women's Studies in Communication.


The Trevor Project, which is an LGBTQ organization that

provides education and support.

The National Center for Transgender Equality, which is an organization that provides education and support for

transgender people.

PFLAG, which is an organization that provides support,

education, and advocacy all over the United States, District of

Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Trans Youth Family Allies, which is a website that provides

resources and education to family members, friends, and allies of transgender people.

TransLatina Coalition, which is an advocacy group for

transgender Latin American people and communities.

Gender Spectrum, which is a resource and education site.

World Professional Association for Transgender Health, which is a website that provides a directory of healthcare providers and scholarship opportunities for transgender people.


• Avoid “preferred pronouns” or “preferred name”

• Try, “Hey everyone!” instead of, “Hey guys!”

• Intro yourself with pronouns, not just in LGBTQ+ situations

-Makes sharing routine, instead of singling out

• Add pronouns to email signature

• Never assume pronouns; can leave feeling invalidated

• When in doubt, use “they/them”

• If you make a mistake, apologize (not over-apologize); move forward Source:


• The oldest gender-neutral pronoun in the English language is singular “they.” For centuries, a common way to identify a person whose gender was indefinite.

• The 1600s: Medical texts referred to individuals who did not accord with binary gender standards as “they/them.”

o Reversed in the 18th century when the notion that “they” was grammatically incorrect.

• The 1800s: Sexologists pushed an idea that people sexually attracted to the same gender belonged to a “third sex,” which was tied to separate gender identity.

• 1990: Large trans majority asked to be referred to as “they.”

• 2017: First paper published re: non-binary pronouns; started appearing in e-mail signatures

• 2019: “They” added to Merriam-Webster re: non-binary

• 2019: Many celebs come out as non-binary


• 3rd Weds of Oct (Since 2018)

• Oct 19, 2022


• People use sex and gender interchangeably; NOT correct.

• A person’s sex assigned at birth, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation are all separate things.

•Sex: Biologically male or female (binary); or intersex

  • Sex chromosomes, gonads, internal reproductive organs & genitalia

  • 1.7% born intersex (sex organs that fall outside M & F – such as someone born with ovarian & testicular tissues)

•Gender: Attitudes, feelings, behaviors & culture associates with a biological sex

  • Not divided along binary lines of “male” or “female”

  • Gender identity: How you think about yourself

  • Gender expression: How you demonstrate gender

• Sexual orientation: Romantic or sexual attraction


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Apr 26

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