We recognise that there are barriers to asking about LGBTQUA+ inclusive and queer practice, and are committed to breaking down those barriers. We offer an anonymous question-answering service as part of those efforts.
You might want to ask about:
- LGBTQUA+ inclusive terminology and language
- Queer pedagogies, and/or LGBTQUA+ inclusive pedagogies
- LGBTQUA+ inclusive data collection
- Supporting LGBTQUA+ staff and students
- Queering practice
Submit your question here, and it will be answered below within 5 working days wherever possible.
Your Questions Answered
Q: Some people state their pronouns as "she/they" to indicate that they prefer a mix of pronouns to be used over time, and others to indicate that they are comfortable with any. If someone I work closely with states their pronouns as "she/they", is it OK to check in and ask for more detail about their preference?
As you've mentioned, there are a few ways that "she/they" (or similar) can be meant or interpreted, such as:
- "I'd like you to use a mix of she/her and they/them pronouns for me."
- "I don't mind whether you use she/her or they/them pronouns for me, but not he/him pronouns."
- "Sometimes I prefer she/her pronouns, and other times I prefer they/them pronouns."
To answer your question, yes, it's OK to ask for clarification. (In fact, it's good practice for everyone.) Our advice though would be to ask in a way that conveys that you understand the above, and constrains the information you're asking for. It's the difference between "Can you explain what your pronouns mean?" and "I know 'she/they' can be used in a couple of different ways. Would you prefer I mix which set of pronouns I use for you, or use one set consistently?" The first could be misinterpreted as not understanding at all/a request for educational support, or even resistance/reluctance to use their pronouns.
Also, where possible we'd advise asking in a 1-1 setting, rather than in front of a group. Although asking for clarification is positive, they might not want to be the centre of a group's focus when talking about their pronouns. Most non-binary people have more experience of their pronouns being challenged than actively supported, so it can be a worry how people will react.
Q: Does non-binary fall under the umbrella of trans? I heard someone refer to themselves as trans, non-binary and that “they are a lesbian now” all in one TV episode. They also mentioned they use any pronouns and all their exes are all cis men… Would this most likely mean they were AFAB but identify as a non-binary lesbian? I know they are all just labels but I am trying to understand. I had not heard someone non-binary also refer to themselves as trans before.
At Warwick we use the following definition of 'trans': "A trans person is someone whose gender is different to that which they were assigned at birth." Non-binary people are included in this definition, and in most widely used definitions of trans in the UK. However, identity is complex and some non-binary people personally choose not to identify with the label of 'trans'. As such, they might meet the definition but not use the identity label. In a similar way, some people may meet the definition of bisexual but prefer the terms gay or queer.
The pronouns people use don't have to 'match' their gender. Some people who are male or female prefer gender-neutral pronouns such as they/them. Some non-binary people prefer gendered pronouns. Others, like the person you describe, don't mind what pronouns people use for them (or specifically prefer people to mix up/use different pronouns for them over time).
Whilst people might commonly associate the identity of lesbian with those who are women, as with all identity labels it is a highly personal decision which terms people use to define their sexual orientation. As such, non-binary people may also be lesbian. This would often be the case for people who are transfeminine (identify more closely with femininity/being female) but don't identify wholly as a woman.
It's not possible with the information given to determine whether the person you're referring to is AFAB (assigned female at birth) or AMAB (assigned male at birth).
Q: [Someone shared their current struggles related to exploring their romantic and sexual identity. We're sharing the information below on exploring your identity and coming out in the hope that the resources and peer support signposted may be helpful.]
If you're exploring or questioning your sexual or romantic orientation or gender identity you might find it helpful to connect with LGBTQUIA+ peers via Warwick Pride's 'parenting scheme' or 'befriending service' (for students), or the Rainbow Staff Network's buddy scheme (for staff).
If you'd like professional support to explore your feelings and any concerns you have relating to sexual or romantic orientation or gender identity, Wellbeing Support Services (for students) or the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) (for staff) can support you. Alternatively, Pink Therapy offers a directory of qualified private therapists working with the LGBT+ community.
External resources that can support you explore your sexual or romantic orientation or gender identity include:
- The Proud Trust's resources on exploring your gender identity and on exploring your sexual orientation.
- AVEN, the asexual visibility and education network, which offers extensive information and support for those who may be on the asexual and/or aromantic spectra.
If you'd like to come out to others at Warwick, you might find it helpful to use Queering University's "I'm part of the trans community" or "I'm part of the LGBTQUIA+ community" tools to facilitate coming out to staff or students at Warwick.
If you want to explore your feelings and any concerns about coming out, Wellbeing Support Services (for students) or the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) (for staff) can support you. Alternatively, Pink Therapy offers a directory of qualified private therapists working with the LGBT+ community.
There are lots of external resources on coming out, including:
- Student Minds' LGBTQ+ coming out and support resources
- The Proud Trust's resources on coming out about your sexual orientation and on coming out about your trans identity
- The Proud Trust's resource on coming out as a person of faith
- Stonewall's resources on coming out
- LGBT Foundation's coming out support and personal stories
- The Mix's 'How to come out'
Q: Hi - I am supportive of using pronouns but I don't want to say what my gender identity is as I don't feel comfortable in stating or fixing this. What pronouns should I use in this case?
A: Let's start by saying that the pronouns we use don't have to say anything about our gender identity, only the pronouns we want people to use for us. So someone might use he/him pronouns, but not identify as a man. Similarly, someone might use they/them pronouns, but identify as a man (whether they're cis or trans!)
That being said, we understand the predicament you're in. If you don't want to share your pronouns proactively, you don't have to i.e. you don't have to wear a pronoun badge, introduce yourself with your pronouns, or share your pronouns in your email signature. However, there might be times when someone asks what your pronouns are. People in the same/similar situations to yours have replied by saying things like "I don't mind what pronouns you use for me." or if they would prefer not being referred to with certain pronouns "You can use any pronouns for me except..." Similarly, if you have a preference, you can state that e.g. "I prefer she/her or they/them pronouns." Equally, some people ask "Please just use my name". It's entirely up to you, and what feels comfortable/right in your circumstances.
If you're not sure what feels right, you might like to ask someone you're close to/trust to try using specific pronouns (or not using pronouns) for you, and see how it feels. It's OK to change the pronouns you ask people to use or not use for you until you find the right (combination of) pronouns for you, or as things change over time.
Q: How many trans students are there at Warwick?
A: 1% of students have explicitly declared that their gender is not the same as the gender they were assigned at birth. That was approximately 270 students in the 2021/22 academic year.
Q: Is it still OK to have gendered group activities, as long as it includes all self-identifying people of that gender?
A: Yes, there are times when it's still desirable to organise gendered group activities. It's helpful to consider the following in doing so:
- Is it essential that you restrict access by gender? In doing so, you may prevent some people who would benefit from accessing it, such as a trans person who is not 'out' or who may feel concerned that their presence will be challenged.
- How can you ensure that your eligibility criteria includes the right people? For example, if you are organising a discussion on lived experiences of sexism, restricting attendance to 'women only' might result in excluding non-binary people who experience sexism, who may have valuable contributions and benefit from attending. You might reframe attendance as for 'women and those with lived experience of sexism'.
It is not advisable to split those in attendance at a mixed-gender event (or similar) into gendered groups. Doing so may result in some people being excluded from all groups (for example non-binary people if there are groups for male participants and female participants only), and/or may pressure people into publicly declaring their gender identity or joining a group that doesn't align with their gender identity.
Q: Is there a link to the different things we can include in our email signature, or an example of an email signature we can refer to?
A: The University's brand guidance on email signatures includes a suggestion of how and where to include your pronouns in your email signature. However, there are many variations, and you might like to look in the email signatures of others for further examples, such as 'My personal pronouns are he/him.'
Q: Is it best practice to introduce yourself with your pronouns?
A: When you feel comfortable sharing your pronouns, yes. This introductory guide offers some examples for how to share your pronouns with others.
Q: How should I correct things if I misgender someone (especially if I have previously made an error and not noticed until a while later)?
A: The Queering University guide to challenging incorrect pronouns and misgendering offers some advice on how to apologise, correct yourself, and take steps to avoid making the same mistake.
The guidance applies to whether you notice straight away or after some time. It is still advisable to reach out with a brief apology, correct yourself ("Apologies, I should have said 'she' when I referred to you.") and take steps to practice and reduce future mistakes.
Q: What gender options should I offer when collecting gender data?
A: Best practice questions and response options for collecting gender, sexual orientation, and trans identity data can be found in the programme's guide on the topic here.
In summary, you should offer a free text field where possible, but if it's necessary to limit the number of options it's recommended that you offer:
- Prefer not to say