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What Are Pronouns?
Pronouns are the words we use in place of a noun. For example instead of ‘man’, we use he/him/his, for ‘woman’, she/her/hers. Gender neutral or gender inclusive pronouns (e.g. they/them/theirs) refer to pronouns that do not associate the individual with a gender of either male or female.
A trans person is someone who self-defines as a gender other than that which they were assigned at birth. People have a gender assigned at birth according to attributes such as chromosomes, hormones and external and internal anatomy. However, this assignment sometimes conflicts with people’s gender identity - their internal sense of their own gender and what feels right for them. This might be male, female, non-binary (outside of male or female), genderless, or some other gender identity.
Everyone has pronouns based on their gender identity. It isn’t always possible to know someone’s gender identity from their appearance alone, so we shouldn't make assumptions about a person’s pronouns from their appearance, voice, or characteristics.
You can find more about pronouns on the Trans & Queer Pedagogies Learning Circle webpage: Pronouns: An Introductory Resource.
Why Is It Important To Get Pronouns Right?
When someone is referred to with a pronoun (e.g. he/she/they) that doesn’t align with their gender identity, it can make them feel alienated. Getting pronouns right is a basic way to respect a person’s gender identity.
Ideas for Getting Pronouns Right
To help build your knowledge, below we've listed six ideas for getting pronouns right:
Try to get in the habit of using ‘they/them’ until you know someone’s pronouns, e.g. “There is someone here to see you, I’ll ask them to take a seat”.
Download a poster/digital screen for idea 1 .
When you introduce someone use their pronouns, so others will learn them, e.g. “This is Hannah, she works in HR. This is George, they work in History”.
Download a poster/digital screen for idea 2 .
Listen to how people speak about themselves and follow suit, e.g. if they say something like “people always say ‘she’s interesting’ when they meet me”.
Download a poster/digital screen for idea 3 .
If you’re not sure, ask people what their pronouns are, e.g. “Sorry, I didn’t catch your pronouns”. Read best practice guidance on asking for and using pronouns .
Download a poster/digital screen for idea 4 .
Consider including pronouns in your email signature, e.g. under your name and job title add “Pronouns: He/Him”. Read best practice guidance on including your pronouns in your email signature .
Download a poster/digital screen for idea 5 .
Consider wearing a badge displaying your pronouns, to help normalise sharing pronouns. Complete the online form to request a pronoun badge.
Download a poster/digital screen for idea 6 .
You may also be interested in:
Charters - including Stonewall UK Workplace Equality Index (LGBTQUA+ equality benchmarking exercise)
Staff Networks - including LGBTQUA+ Networks
Taskforces and SIC - including Rainbow Taskforce
Events - including LGBTQUA+ History Month