Ways to Be Gender Inclusive
Gender inclusivity, visibility, and representation are incredibly important. Babson provides faculty and staff with safe zone and ally stickers, as well as encourages further indication to show that offices or rooms are safe spaces. There are other ways to support the transgender community and be gender inclusive. One of those ways, is to be educated on the use of gender-inclusive pronouns.
Why Pronouns Matter
Pronouns are equally as important as names because we want to know what to call a person. In the same regard that some people prefer to be referred to by a nickname or ensure their name is pronounced correctly, it’s necessary to be conscious of their pronoun. When pronouns are assigned to someone without confirming their pronouns, there is a major assumption about that person based on their physical appearance, which is incorrect and can be disrespectful. Asking about someone’s pronouns, sharing your own, or making your pronouns easily visible are easy ways to show people that you’re supportive, inclusive, and respectful of gender identity.
Gendered pronouns, such as She/Her/Hers and He/Him/His, are used to refer to others in place of a name. Gender-neutral pronouns are They/Them/Theirs, Ze/Hir/Hirs, and Xe/Xem/Xyrs, and are used by those who do not want to be associated with a specific gender. Ways of using pronouns to show gender inclusivity are:
This can be done in groups, individually, or at any time when someone asks for your name on a form. Consider updating your personal information to include your pronouns as well. Business cards, email signatures, office door nameplates, etc. are ways to demonstrate to people that you’re gender inclusive.
Be aware of gender and gender binary language
Be aware of how you are referring to groups. Try using gender-neutral language when referring to groups such as “group of students” or “hello everyone,” instead of guys. You also may use they or them as opposed to he or she.
Try not to make assumptions
Get to know someone in order to use accurate pronouns instead of making an assumption based on physical appearance.
It is OK to ask about a person’s pronouns, share your own, or make pronouns visible. It indicates that you are supportive, inclusive, and respectful of gender, pronouns, and gender identity.
She? Ze? They? What’s in a Gender Pronoun – The New York Times, 1/30/2016
Tips for Allies of Transgender People – GLAAD, n.d.
Gender Pronouns: Tips, FAQ, Resources – LGBT Resource Center, 2016
Guide to Being a Trans Ally – Straight for Equality, 2014
Gender Inclusive Terminology – Gender Diversity.org, n.d.
The Ultimate Breakdown of the Gender Binary – Everyday Feminism, 2016
Sorry, grammar nerds. The singular ‘they’ has been declared Word of the Year – The Washington Post, 2016
Questions, Comments, or Concerns?
Lauryn McNair [Pronouns: she/her/hers]
Coordinator of Multicultural & LGBTQ Programs