When Jazzlyn Stone realized that she had lost yet another pronoun button at a convention, she quickly realized that although the buttons she attaches to her lanyard for conventions frequently disappear, the lanyards always survive. However, when she searched for pronoun lanyards online, she came up empty — so she decided to fill the gap by creating them herself.
After a nine-month production process, Stone launched her initial line of pronoun lanyards at NYCC 2019, then put them up for sale in her online store last week. The 36″ lanyards feature simple designs declaring that the wearer uses she/her, he/him, or they/them pronouns, which help normalize asking for and asserting pronouns through stylish, reusable means.
“I’m a cis woman, so part of my privilege is that I very rarely have to deal with being misgendered. When I state my pronouns I don’t have to worry about my safety or having to defend myself,” Stone tells The Beat in an e-mail. “That’s a freedom I’d like everyone to enjoy, and that begins with us normalizing the pronoun conversation.”
Stone worked with designer Akana Fujii to create the lanyards, which are uniform in color, pattern and font choice. Each one has a double-ended lobster clip to accommodate multiple badge styles, and Stone adds that Geek Girl Strong’s Robyn Warren pointed out that these clips will also “accommodate her hair when it’s at its fullest volume.”
“I was designing to solve one problem, but [Robyn] showed me that we were incidentally solving multiple problems and ultimately accommodating more people,” Stone says.
It isn’t the first bit of design that was informed by feedback from a potential buyer, either. Regarding the colors and font, she explains, “We were kicking around two ideas, ’70s and ’80s fonts, but couldn’t decide which was better. Over dinner, I was discussing the idea with Jen Vaughn, and she suggested I run an online poll to determine which design would be more popular. Jen is naturally brilliant, and if you are lucky enough to receive advice from her, you should take it. I ran the poll in April on my Instagram Story. Right away, people were excited about the concept.”
In fact, Stone says people have been “overwhelmingly supportive” of the pronoun lanyards, which she says is “honestly a bit startling.” During the initial launch at NYCC, she says she saw them with more frequency by the third day of the convention, worn by people she had never even met.
“To go from kicking around the idea to seeing strangers flaunt them within nine months is surreal and exciting,” Stone says. “It also shows (to me at least) that con goers are not just ready, but craving more ways to flaunt their identities. I’m excited to see how con organizers invest in that spirit over the next few years.”
Stone notes that one of her favorite parts of the con experience is the feeling of camaraderie and belonging; she says she hopes that pronoun lanyards will help more people feel welcomed, in addition to continuing to normalize the pronoun conversation.
These lanyards also have uses outside of the con circuit. Stone says teachers and medical professionals have reached out about wearing them at work, which could make workplace conversations about pronouns and identity easier to navigate.
“That was a happy surprise to me, similar to when Robyn pointed out what the double ended clips could mean,” Stone says. “I’m embarrassed by my short-sightedness, but excited for others’ ability to hold my idea and take it further. If I were more clever, perhaps this would be a great place for a sports metaphor.”
These lanyards are already making a difference. Stone explains, “I heard this second hand, but at NYCC, a parent got one for their kid who was currently, actively on a pronoun journey. Supportive parents make all the difference and i’m honored that these lanyards could play a small role in that parent’s celebration of their child. That story gave me a lot of hope for the future.”
In addition to the proud feeling Stone gets when she wears her she/her lanyard, she tells The Beat that she is incredibly thankful to the community who helped her bring this endeavor to life. Following this initial, limited test batch to test the market for interest, Stone intends to expand the pronouns offered on future lanyards, as well as come up with a way to accommodate wearers who use multiple pronouns.
Pronoun lanyards are currently available for purchase at jazzlynstone.com/sidestore. Single lanyards can be purchased for $20 or a set of two (mix and match) can be purchased for $30.