Pronouns are used in every day speech and writing to take the place of people's names. We frequently use them without thinking about it. Often, when speaking of someone in the third person, these pronouns have a gender implied. These associations are not always accurate or helpful.
Mistaking or assuming peoples' pronouns without asking first, erases their gender and sends a harmful message. Using someone's correct gender pronouns is one of the most basic ways to show your respect for their identity.
Join the UCI LGBT Resource Center as we aim to advance the knowledge of using everyone's correct gender pronouns and strive for a more inclusive environment at UCI.
What are Pronouns?
Pronouns are words that refer to either the people talking (like you or I) or someone or something that is being talked about (like she, they, and this). Gender pronouns (like he or them) specifically refer to people that you are talking about.
Using Gender Pronouns
People may choose to use a variety of pronouns. Below is a list of some commonly used pronouns and how they are used:
This is not an exhaustive list. It is good practice to ask which pronouns a person uses.
Why is it important for UCI faculty, staff, and students to respect gender pronouns?
- The University of California's nondiscrimination policy includes protections for sex and gender identities. A key element of creating a safe space for people of all sexes and gender identities is the respectful use of gender pronouns.
Additionally, new changes in California Law have dramatically expanded how we look utilize and affirm people’s pronouns.
- SB 179 – Gender Recognition Act - in California gender markers on birth certificates, drivers licenses, and California identification cards include Male (M), Female (F), and Nonbinary (X) as of January 1, 2019.
UCI has developed a Task Force to address the issues related to this Act. We are looking at necessary changes across our enterprise for data collection to include nonbinary pronouns. Additionally, we are working on assessment to learn how to provide campus wide education on transgender and nonbinary identities to insure all of our community experience a supportive and first in class experience. We wish to align ourselves to our values of inclusion by making sure everyone in our community feels legible in their gender identity and gender expression and utilization of pronouns is one important piece to achieving this goal.
- The UC office of the President Policy on Gender Recognition and Lived Name was created to support and amplify SB 179.
- California Fair Housing/Employment Act – The Department of Fair Employment and Housing is California’s Civil Rights Agency. The department is the state agency charged with enforcing California’s civil rights laws. Complaints by students, staff, faculty, employees, patients and visitors experiencing discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identity and gender expression would be filed through the department, and could lead to a number of negative outcomes for UCI including
- Civil penalties or punitive damages.
- Damages for emotional distress
- An injunction prohibiting the unlawful practice
- More information is available at https://www.dfeh.ca.gov/
- Asking UCI community members what their gender pronouns are and consistently using them correctly is one of the most basic ways to show your respect for their gender identity. This can determine within the first few minutes if they will feel respected at UCI or not.
- Discussing and correctly using gender pronouns sets a tone of allyship. It can truly make all of the difference, especially for new community members that may feel particularly vulnerable in a new environment.
- You can't always know what someone's gender pronoun is by looking at them. When someone is referred to with the wrong pronoun, it can make them feel disrespected, invalidated, dismissed, alienated, or hurt.
- Many people may be learning about gender pronouns for the first time, so this will be a learning opportunity for the UCI community. You will be setting an example for your colleagues.
How can I be inclusive in using and respecting gender pronouns?
Incorporate gender pronouns in everyday use, with these strategies:
- Edit your email signature to include your pronouns
- Verbal introductions and check-ins are great opportunities to solicit gender pronouns. As names and pronouns can change over time, it is preferable to regularly incorporate these questions into meetings and introductions. Asking about a person's pronouns may initially feel awkward or uncomfortable, but it is preferable to making hurtful assumptions and using the wrong pronoun. Here are some ways you can do this:
- "What pronouns do you use?"
- "How would you like me to refer to you?"
- "How would you like to be addressed?"
- "Can you remind me which pronouns you like for yourself?"
- "My name is Joshua and my pronouns are he, him, and his. What about you?"