For some, the idea of sharing your preferred pronoun may seem unnecessary or overly “PC” the first time you are asked. This increasingly common practice has one purpose – to proactively give each individual the opportunity to define themselves. Gender identity has never been as binary as we have assumed – culturally and historically. Inviting colleagues and students to share preferred pronouns signals our increased awareness and intentionality in our approaches to diversity, equity and inclusion.  

What are pronouns? Grammatically, pronouns are what we use to identify ourselves and others often substituted for our name. Commonly used are “she/her” or “he/his” which indicate the known or assumed gender identity of a person. Some gender neutral pronouns are “they/them” or ze/hir” [pronounced zee/heer]. Example of Spanish pronouns “she/ella” or “he/el” or “they/ellos/ellas.”.  Depending on the person and what language they speak, pronouns can change; this is where the concept of sharing pronouns emerges. Some people will choose to use certain pronouns or may opt to use no use pronouns at all, based upon how they identify themselves.

For some choosing to identify in a gender neutral manner “they/them” may be more reflective of their identity. Example: John is helping me cook tomorrow. They make amazing pasta. 

Why are pronouns important? Pronouns are being shared more commonly in a variety of ways-- nametags, email signatures or before presentations (face to face or virtually)This allows the person to self-identify when meeting others. It is good practice to avoid assuming a person’s identity. Sharing pronouns is a invitation to respect a person’s identity adapting the way we address that person, per their self-determination, creates a more welcoming space for people of all genders.   

A few virtual ways you can share your pronouns...
Consider adding your pronouns to your profile on Zoom and/or WebEx.
Ex. First Last, MSU Texas (preferred pronouns)
Use the "suffix" field in the university directory profile.
Add it to your signature at the end of your emails.

How is this more inclusive? Instead of assuming a person’s identity (often done through judgements of someone’s dress, style, mannerisms), we are opening the space for others to let us know who they are--without our preconceived biases interferingConsider adding a question about preferred pronouns to any forms, registrations or even introductory icebreakers at meetings. By providing this opportunity for each person to share themselves, it shows you are not assuming their identity based off their appearance 

What if I don’t want to share my pronouns? That’s totally fine! By providing the space and opportunity to share, it also means you (and others) should not feel obligated to share preferred pronounsWhen you feel more comfortable, you may be more inclined to share your preferences. There are a number of reasons why people may not share pronouns. Some may still be questioning their identity, or they may not be comfortable sharing that identity, yet. Others may not care how people perceive their gender identity, though this is more common among cisgender individualsIf you do not know a person’s pronouns, the most considerate option is to refrain from using pronouns for that person and refer to them by their name.  

NOTE: For those individuals who identify as cisgender (typically the dominant identity in most communities and organizations), choosing to share your own preferred pronouns can be affirming for those who may be uncomfortable asserting theirs. Doing so can quietly signal thexpectation that this class, group or event is welcoming and respectful – and that everyone involved should feel valued and be treated equitably. 

What if I get it wrong? Mistakes and misgenderingMisgendering is (intentionally or unintentionally) referring, relating or using language to describe a person that does not align with their affirmed gender identity. If you accidentally use the wrong pronoun, just apologize or say “thank you” if they correct you; then make an effort to use the correct pronoun moving forward.  

Everyone makes mistakes but recognizing and acknowledging ii will allow you to learn, as well as make the other person feel more comfortable. Do not be alarmed if a person gets upset or responds negatively when there is a misuse of pronouns; jsut give them space to recenter.  

Tips  

  • Practice! Use “they” or “zee” when referring to a person you have not met until they have an opportunity to introduce themselves.

  • When referring to group of people use words like “they”, “siblings”, “folks”, “friends” or, in Texas, “y’all.” These are alternatives for “ladies and gentlemen” “brothers and sisters” or “guys”.

  • Use other descriptive language to describe a person if you do not know their identity. Ex. “Can you hand this piece of cake to the person in the back with the blue striped shirt and brown hair?”

  • Share with others! We learn better together, and starting these conversations is the best way to be inclusive. Continue learning new concepts and terms. True community starts with respecting each other!

For more information about pronouns and other ways to support LGBTQ+ students and colleagues, visit https://www.glsen.org/  

The MOSAIC Office has Pronoun buttons located in the office in the Clark Student Center, 194. 
Pick yours up today! 

pronoun buttons


List of Common Pronouns

Please note these are not the only pronouns. There are infinite amount of pronouns as new ones emerge in our language. The best practice is to ask someone their preferred pronouns. 

  • He/him/his
  • He/they
  • He/el
  • She/her/hers
  • She/they
  • She/ella
  • They/them/theirs

Honorifics; titles, some of which convey gender. These terms have different meaning to people. just like pronouns, using the correct honorific is a sign of respect

  • Mr.
  • Mrs.
  • Ms.
  • Mx.
  • Miss

Neopronouns or Gender Neutral; A category of new pronouns that replace, “she”, “he”, they.” Neopronouns can be used for anyone, though most often used by transgender, non-binary, or gender nonconforming people.

  • Ze/Zie and Hir
  • Ze/Zie or Zir
  • Ne
  • Ve
  • Spivak
  • Xe