All About Pronouns
Pronouns are how we refer to each other in the third person. You cannot guess someone’s gender or pronouns by their appearance! Here are a few answers to questions related to pronouns.
Also, you can PDF Document: download a PDF with helpful thoughts about pronouns.
Why Care about Pronouns?
You can’t always tell someone’s gender by looking at them. Using someone’s correct personal pronouns is respectful and creates an inclusive environment.
People who may not identify as strictly a woman or a man, such as non-binary. It may also be good to use neutral pronouns when you do not know what the person would prefer.
There are many, but here are some examples: they, them, theirs; xe, xir, xirs; ze, zir, zirs.
Yes. The Washington Post style guide, The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, and the Oxford Dictionary all recognize the singular “they” as a gender-neutral pronoun.
Using someone’s pronouns accurately shows respect and acceptance.
How to Use Pronouns
Ideally everyone. Asking people about their pronouns is an excellent practice that doesn’t single out non gender conforming, trans, genderfluid, or other gender minorities.
If possible, introduce yourself first. For example, “Hi, my name is Kat and my pronouns are they, them and their. What would you like me to call you?”
Give them an example, such as: someone with the name Elizabeth may go by Liz or Beth and I just want to make sure I use the right one to show respect.
Share your own pronouns and ask others to share their pronouns with the group or you individually.
Relationships in healthcare are unique and require a great deal of trust. Make a point of asking a patient’s pronouns and name they go by, ideally at first introduction, and use the information at each subsequent interaction.
Apologize briefly, use the correct pronoun and move on. Try not to repeat the mistake again in the future.
If appropriate, gently correct the speaker using the person’s correct pronouns such as stating “Oh, you mean when SHE went to the store.” Check in with the misgendered person as needed.
Don’t ignore the situation. Elevate the issue to the appropriate leadership in your area.
Why is it important not to refer to someone by their birthname (sometimes referred to as ‘deadname’) or gender if it is not their stated name or gender?
Using a former name or gender assigned at birth denies a person of their true identity. This can be painful and bring about mistrust.
My childhood friend transitioned from male to female. If I am sharing a story about her as a child, which gender should I use.
Generally, use the gender the person identifies with currently. If unsure, use a gender neutral pronoun.
Avoid using outdated and offensive terms such as tranny, it, or shim. The word “queer” is a generally an acceptable term for younger generations, but may be seen as derogatory to older people.
When appropriate, start meetings with introductions including names and pronouns. Consider adding your pronouns to your email signature, name plate, business card, or nametag.
Many people add their pronouns to their email signature. For example:
When singling out or second-guessing the gender pronouns of a person who appears to be non-binary or transgender, or if there is a risk of inadvertently outing someone. This is especially important with children.