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Gender Pronouns

Using the right pronouns is an important part of respecting a person’s identity.  By asking and using a person’s pronouns, you show respect for the diversity of gender identities and promote awareness of transgender and gender nonconforming communities.

This also prevents assumptions from being made about a person’s gender identity, and, most importantly, fosters an affirming space for people's identities. In order to be a more welcoming campus, we are adding pronouns to class rosters and advising databases. By including their pronouns, asking questions when you are unsure, and learning about ways in which you can create these spaces in your own departments and classrooms, you become part of a welcoming environment. If there are questions or you do not see a pronoun with which you identify, please contact Paige Jennings, director of the Gender and Sexuality Center, at

Below, you will find some resources to help you get started. There are also some frequently asked questions about gender pronouns.  


Frequently Asked Questions

What are gender pronouns?
In English, whether we realize it or not, people frequently refer to one another using pronouns. Often, when speaking of a singular human in third person, these pronouns have a gender implied—“he” to refer to a man/boy or “she” to refer to a woman/girl.

Why is it important to respect people’s pronouns?
Using someone’s correct personal pronouns is a way to respect them and create an inclusive environment. This is similar to using a person's name can be a way to respect them.  We all know it can be offensive or even harassing to make up a nickname for someone, and call them that nickname against their will. It can also be offensive or harassing to guess at someone's pronouns and refer to them using those pronouns if that is not how that person wants to be known.  

Even worse, actively choosing to ignore the pronouns someone has stated that they use could imply the oppressive notion that intersex, transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people do not or should not exist.

How do I ask someone what pronouns they use?
First, make sure that you have shared your own pronouns. Doing so will help make other people more comfortable to share their pronouns with you.

If you are meeting someone new, you might say: “Hi, I’m Akeem, and I go by ‘they’ pronouns. How should I refer to you?” Of course, you may encounter someone who isn’t familiar with sharing personal pronouns. In that case, explain that people often assume that someone goes by “he” or “she” or another set of pronouns (e.g. “they” or “ze”) based on their appearance, but that the only way to really know how someone feels respected is to ask what pronouns they go by. Usually, offering up that the vast majority of people go by either “he” or “she” helps indicate to the other person the type of response they might give.

What if I make a mistake?
It’s OK! Everyone slips up from time to time. The best thing to do if you use the wrong pronoun is to say something right away, such as, “Sorry, I meant [insert pronoun].”

If you realize your mistake after the fact, apologize in private and move on.

It can be tempting to go on and on about how bad you feel that you messed up, or how hard it is for you to get it right. Please don’t! It is inappropriate and makes the person who was misgendered feel awkward and responsible for comforting you. That is absolutely not their job.

Taking an active role in your classes, you may hear a student use the wrong pronoun for someone. In most cases, it is appropriate to gently correct the student without further embarrassing the individual who was misgendered. This means saying something like “Alex uses the pronoun she” and then moving on. If other students or faculty consistently use the wrong pronouns for someone, do not ignore it! It is important to let students know that you are their ally.


What accommodations are available for Student-Athletes? 

Varsity student-athletes can indicate changes to name or gender pronouns on athletic communications intake forms. The forms can be updated at any time via online submission to the Director of Athletic Communications. Department staff will work collaboratively with student-athletes to communicate changes to name or chosen pronouns to teammates, coaches, and other relevant parties, including to the media and in news stories and event recaps.

Gender Pronoun Chart

Pronouns Pronunciation Subject Object Possessive Reflexive
he-him-his-himself hee, him, his, himself He went to Essie's. I gave it to him. He got his food from Essie's. He did that himself.
she-her-her-herself shee, hur, hur, hurself She went to Essie's. I gave it to her. She got her food from Essie's. She did that herself.
ze-hir-hir-hirself zee, heer, heer, heerself Ze went to Essie's. I gave it to hir. Ze got hir food from Essie's. Ze did that hirself.
ze-zem-zir-zirself zee, zem, zeer, zeerself Ze went to Essie's. I gave it to zem. Ze got zir food from Essie's. Ze did that zirself.
they-them-their-themselves they, them, thair, themselves They went to Essie's. I gave it to them. They got their food from Essie's. They did that themselves.
ey-em-eir-emself ey, em, air, emself Ey went to Essie's. I gave it to em. Ey got eir food from Essie's. Ey did that emself.
xe-xem-xyrs-xyrself zee, zem, zeers, zeerself Xe went to Essie's. I gave it to xem. Xe got xyrs food from Essie's. Xe did that xyrself.
per-per-pers-perself pur, pur, purs, purself Per went to Essie's. I gave it to per. Per got pers food from Essie's. Per did that perself.
name, no pronoun   Gabriela went to Essie's. I gave it to Gabriela. Gabriela got Gabriela’s food from Essie's. Gabriela did that Gabriela’s self.