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  • Writer's pictureKalen Zeiger, MS, tLMFT, CCTP, CFTP

The Rainbow Rule

The Rainbow Rule is one of my favorite tools for explaining why we should respect everyone's names, pronouns, and other identifiers.

Most people have heard of The Golden Rule- to treat others as you would like to be treated. And a lot of people have heard of The Silver Rule- to not treat others as you don't want to be treated. Few people argue against these ideals.


Let's take them one step further. Both the Golden Rule and the Silver Rule are predicated on the idea of how YOU want to be treated. That underlying concept being the hope that if we will be treated the way we want to be.


So let's make that the rule. A rule that says that others should treat you the way you want to be treated. Or if we flip it, a rule that says to treat others the way they want to be treated.

That's the Rainbow Rule.


The Rainbow Rule just means that we should to use the pronouns, names, and labels that others want us to use for them. And not to use the pronouns, names, and labels that other people don't want us to use for them. Just like you wouldn't want people to call you the wrong name or misidentify you over and over. Especially now after you had already corrected them to let them know what your name was or who you are.


It's basic courtesy that doesn't cost us anything but minimal kindness, and it's a very simple idea that can matter so much to the people in your life.


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