Pronouns: A Resource for Educators

Image is of a plastic bag with the words "Please take one (or whatever you need)" The bag is full of pins with the pronouns he/him, she/her, and they/them.

Why focus on pronouns?

You may have noticed that people are sharing their pronouns in introductions, on name tags, and when GSA meetings begin. This is happening to make spaces more inclusive of transgender, gender nonconforming, and gender non-binary people. Including pronouns is a first step toward respecting people’s gender identity, working against cisnormativity, and creating a more welcoming space for people of all genders.

How is this more inclusive?

People’s pronouns relate to their gender identity. For example, someone who identifies as a woman may use the pronouns “she/her.” We do not want to assume people’s gender identity based on gender expression (typically shown through clothing, hairstyle, mannerisms, etc.) By providing an opportunity for people to share their pronouns, you're showing that you're not assuming what their gender identity is based on their appearance. If this is the first time you're thinking about your pronoun, you may want to reflect on the privilege of having a gender identity that is the same as the sex assigned to you at birth.

Tips for Gender-neutral Language:

  • If you feel comfortable, introduce yourself with your pronouns as a model. For example: “Hi, I’m Anjelique. I use she/her and they/them pronouns” or “I’m Milo, and I use they/them pronouns.”
  • Practice, practice, practice! Use gender-neutral pronouns such as “they” and “ze” while visualizing the person who uses them.
  • Whenever possible, take the lead from the transgender and GNC students and educators in your school, especially during the planning stages.
  • Welcome feedback, and be ready to make adjustments as you continue to make your spaces more inclusive: “If you have any feedback for us on how to make this GSA a more welcoming space for transgender, gender nonconforming and gender non-binary people, please let us know!”
  • When addressing groups of people or people whose pronouns you haven’t been told, use gender-neutral language such as, “friends,” “folks,” “all,” or “y’all,” rather than “guys,” “ladies,” “ma’am,” or “sir.”

Other resources from GLSEN for supporting Trans/GNC Youth

Leading Organizations for Transgender Advocacy: