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 Nyk Robertson, Interim Assistant Director of the Intercultural Center at nrobert1@swarthmore.edu

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

If you have other questions or want to learn more, please contact the Intercultural Center staff.

 

Nyk Robertson
they/them/theirs
Interim Assistant Director of the Intercultural Center
610-328-7353

Cooper Kidd
they/them/theirs
LGBTQ+ Fellow
610-690-3880

 

Resources

Gender Pronouns Guide

Asking For and Using Pronouns: Making Spaces More Gender Inclusive

Making Class Welcoming for Trans and Gender-Variant Students

Adding Pronouns to Your Email Signature

More Resources on Personal Pronouns

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are gender pronouns?

Why is it important to respect people's pronouns?

How do I ask someone what pronouns they use?

What if I make a mistake?

 

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.

Source: mypronouns.org

 

Gender Pronoun Chart

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