As part of our Inclusive Language Series, we are introducing some terms and resources for you to learn more about this semester in an effort to create more inclusive communities. This week’s term is: Gender Pronoun.
Have you ever seen gender pronouns on a name tag or in an email signature and wondered why they were there or what they mean? Pronouns are often used in place of one’s name. Examples of pronouns include: she/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/theirs, ze/hir/hirs, per/per/pers, etc. Using someone’s correct pronouns is one of the best ways to show respect to that person and how they want to be identified. Many people include their pronouns in their email signature, on their Zoom profile, and share them during their introductions so people know how to refer to them without making assumptions based on their appearance or name.
It is also important to note that people may change the pronouns they use as they explore and learn which one(s) fit them best or as their understanding of their identities change. Because of certain lived experiences, some people may prefer you to use certain pronouns in different locations or contexts. For example, your friend may want you to use they/them/theirs pronouns around you and their friends, but not when their family is visiting. They may not feel comfortable with you using these pronouns in front of people they are not “out” to.
If you are unsure of someone’s pronouns, you could ask them how they would like to be addressed or referred to. You could also say something similar to the following example: “Hi, my name is Sam and I use they, them, and their pronouns. How about you?” If someone chooses to not share their pronouns with you, that is fine as well, and you should not force a response from them. In this situation, you should refer to them by their name.
If you mistakenly misgender someone it is important to recognize everyone will respond differently to this. As soon as you realize you have made this mistake, be sure to apologize and assure them that you will get it right next time.
To learn more about gender pronouns, how to use them properly, and why they matter, please review the resources listed below.
University of Wisconsin–Madison, Gender and Sexuality Campus Center
University of Wisconsin–Madison, The Writing Center
Upcoming Holidays & Observances
November 11: Veterans Day, a US federal holiday honoring military veterans. The date is also celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world and commemorates the ending of World War I in 1918.
November 13–19: Transgender Awareness Week, the week before Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20, in which people and organizations participate in Transgender Awareness Week to help raise the visibility of transgender people and address issues members of the community face
Dates from Seramount