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3.1 Third-Face Personal Pronouns

The pronouns commonly used for people, she and he, create a gender binary. This paradigm excludes people who don't identify as female or male. Non-binary, genderfluid, genderqueer, transgender folks often use singular they or other alternatives, such as ze/zir/zirs or ze/hir/hirsKnowing about the complexities of gender identity and gender expression that go beyond binary, it is not appropriate to make assumptions about the gender identity of others.

Please note that preferred pronouns do not necessarily correlate with gender identity. Some non-binary, genderqueer, gender fluid folks may use pronouns she or he. Some people prefer to be called only by their name with no pronoun at all.

It is important to respect the privacy of other people and avoid making assumptions about their gender identity. Paying attention to how people refer to themselves helps, but it would be better to ask how they’d like to be called and which pronouns they use. If unsure how to ask another person about their preferred pronoun, you could start by introducing yours. This could serve as an invitation for others to share their pronouns.


Hello, my name is Jay, my pronouns are he/him/his. Please introduce yourself with your name and your preferred pronoun, if you feel comfortable sharing it.

Hello, my name is Jay, my pronouns are they/them/theirs. What's your name and pronoun?

Studies show that by giving students a chance to self-identify and by making the space more comfortable for non-majority students, you enhance creativity and decision-making in the classroom. Please be aware that talking about pronouns has many advantages, but also holds risks as it might be uncomfortable for some students or even force trans* or non-binary students to come out in class.

Please remember
A pronoun does not necessarily correlate with the gender identity of a person.
Never disclose your student's gender identity to anyone else unless they explicitly gave you their permission.
Respect your student's preferred pronouns and names.
If you made a mistake, acknowledge it and try avoiding it next time.

You can find more valuable advice in these guidelines for teaching beyond the gender binary at university.