At Xavier, we believe in creating and cultivating an inclusive environment for all students, staff, and faculty. Some people don't feel that the traditional gender binary pronouns [she/her, he/him] fit their identities. In some cases, transgender (trans+), gender non-conforming, and other gender-variant folks may choose to use different pronouns.
International Pronouns Day
International Pronouns Day - celebrated the third Wednesday every October - seeks to make respecting, sharing, and education about personal pronouns commonplace. Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people’s multiple, intersecting identities. For more information on International Pronouns day, visit their website.
Which pronoun should I use?
If you are beginning a conversation with someone, try introducing yourself with your pronouns. For example, you could say, 'Hi my name is Maria. I'm from Ohio and I use she/her/hers pronouns.'
You could also ask a person:
- How would you like to be addressed?
- What pronouns would you like me to use to refer to you?
If you don't know the person, or are unsure, it is usually best to use gender neutral pronouns until you know.
I'm not transgender, so why introduce myself with my pronouns?
Introducing yourself with your pronouns can often make it safer and more comfortable for others who might not necessarily use 'traditional' pronouns to come out in that space. Introducing yourself with your pronouns is an effective way to be an active ally to trans+, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming folks.
What if I make a mistake?
In most cases if the mistake is made in the moment and you realize it, try correcting yourself by saying, "I'm sorry, I meant to say the book belongs to them not him." If you realize the mistake later, you can try apologizing to the person and let them know that you will be more diligent next time.
What to Avoid
*Never refer to a person as 'it' (unless they specifically ask you to). 'It' or 'he-she' are offensive terms used against the transgender and gender non-conforming communities.
*You might hear she/her pronouns referred to as female pronouns, and he/him pronouns referred to as male pronouns. However, because everyone who uses these pronouns might not identify as 'female' or 'male' it is genuinely a good practice to avoid categorizing these pronouns in this way.
When should I correct others?
Everyone is different. Some people may not want a lot of attention around the use of their pronouns. However, that doesn't mean you can't correct someone if they are consistently mispronouncing a friend, student or colleague. If you hear someone consistently using the wrong pronoun for a person, try correcting them gently. For example, "Actually I think Kyle uses he and him pronouns. And yes, I did think his speech was excellent"
Pronouns can be new and a challenge for some people to remember at first. People can make mistakes, but the best way to show support as an ally is to keep practicing. For additional resources, check these out:
If you're a faculty member or instructor, consider adding an inclusivity statement to your syllabi, such as this:
I am deeply committed to creating and cultivating an inclusive environment which recognizes and honors the diversity among my students’ gender expressions. Therefore, I am always more than happy to hear from students about their chosen names and pronouns. If you have a specific name or pronouns you would like me and/or the rest of our class to call you, please do not hesitate to reach out and let me know.
You can also show your support is to add your own pronouns in your email signature, like this: