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Pronouns: Let's Get It Right

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.

 

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, and you can find links to more information and resources on the right.

 

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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 and digital screen slide for this idea).

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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 and digital screen slide for this idea).

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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 and digital screen slide for this idea).

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If you’re not sure, ask people what their pronouns are, e.g. “Sorry, I didn’t catch your pronouns”.

(Download a poster and digital screen slide for this idea).

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Consider including pronouns in your email signature, e.g. under your name and job title add “Pronouns: He/Him”.

(Download a poster and digital screen slide for this idea).

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Consider wearing a badge displaying your pronouns, to help normalise sharing pronouns. Request a pronoun badge by completing the form here.

(Download a poster and digital screen slide for this idea).