Supporting Chosen Names and Pronouns
At Johns Hopkins University, students, faculty, and staff are provided with the option to identify themselves using a chosen first name within select university systems. Chosen name can be elected at my.jhu.edu.
A chosen or preferred name is the use of a first, middle and/or last name that is different from a person’s legal name. There are many reasons why someone would use a chosen name, such as a reflection of gender identity, as a nickname, or as a westernized or Americanized name.
Once specified, a chosen name will replace legal name in select university system user interfaces unless the system requires the use of legal name. Support for chosen middle and last names will be implemented starting in the Spring 2022 semester. Chosen first name (previously referred to as preferred first name) is currently used in select university system user interfaces, usually in addition to legal first name. As systems are modified to support chosen middle and last names, chosen first name will replace legal first name in the interface, if applicable. This page will be updated as systems are modified.
JHU reserves the right to remove a chosen name for any reason, including misrepresentation or the use of inappropriate, offensive or derogatory language.
This information applies to all schools and campuses at JHU, and for students, faculty and staff, except where indicated.
For more information, read the university policy on chosen names.
Using Chosen Names
- Wherever possible, use someone’s chosen name. This includes casual conversation, email communication, and formal settings.
- If you are creating a registration/signup form, allow the use of chosen name only, unless there is some specific reason you need access to someone’s legal name.
- Depending on which platforms you use, you may have access to a student or colleague’s legal name. Treat this as confidential data and do not employ it unless there is a specific need for it to be used.
- There may be circumstances (e.g. when conducting a background check, dealing with financial records, or sending postal mail) when a legal name is required. Limit the use of that name to those circumstances.
- There may be times (e.g. when contacting family members or writing letters of recommendation) when someone may not want the chosen name used. If you are hesitant about a particular context, you can ask privately if there is an exception to using the chosen
- In most circumstances, someone’s JHED (e.g. jhopkin1) will stay static, so you can reliably use that to identify a record in SIS or other platforms even if the chosen name is not visible/searchable.
Chosen Name Use in Systems
Over the last several years, Johns Hopkins University has committed to, and implemented, policies to support transgender and non-binary individuals, including the use of chosen names and pronouns in many of our information and academic systems.
For detailed information on how to specify your chosen name and obtain a JHU badge, please click here.
Please contact us if you have a question about a particular system, office, or process.
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.
Some people do use multiple sets of pronouns. Read this article from them. magazine that combines perspectives from 10 different people on their multiple pronoun usage. How To Affirm the People in Your Life Who Use Multiple Sets of Pronouns
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.
Troubleshooting with Pronouns
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.