Respecting Pronouns: An Inclusive Practice

This Pride season help your organization make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace. Pronouns are the words you may like others to use for you in place of your name. Some examples include “she/her” or “he/him” or gender-neutral pronouns, such as “they/them”.

Pronouns can sometimes be a signifier for someone’s gender identity, but not always. We do not want to assume people’s gender identity based on expression (typically shown through clothing, hairstyle, etc.)

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, who are sometimes harassed and treated with hostility. This is often demonstrated by intentional or repeated use of the wrong pronouns. Anti-trans violence disproportionately affects trans women and gender nonconforming people of color.

Using the right pronouns is a critical step in acknowledging the humanity of trans and gender nonconforming people. Recent research finds that referring to people in the ways they wish to be referred to can have positive health outcomes for trans people.

By incorporating pronoun use in daily communications, your organization can give everyone in the room the opportunity to self-identify instead of assuming someone’s identity or which pronouns they use.

4 Ways to support pronoun use:

1 – Incorporate pronouns into your Zoom profile

  • Example: Add (she/her) after your last name.

2 – Add pronouns to your email signature


Janet Doe

Pronouns: They/Them

Clinical Nurse

[email protected] | (000) 000-0000

3 – Introduce yourself with your pronouns

  • Example: “Hello! My name is ________ and my pronouns are __________. Can I ask what your pronouns are?”

4 – Practice using gender neutral pronouns when you are unsure of how colleagues may identify

  • For example: Use “everyone,” “colleagues,” “students”, “friends,” “folks,” “all,” or “y’all,” rather than “guys,” “ladies,” “gentlemen,” “dude”, “ma’am,” or “sir.”

Get Started

Practicing inclusive pronoun use is a first step toward respecting people’s identity and creating a more welcoming space for LGBTQ+ folks and people of all genders at your organization.