Why Pronouns are Important
Pronouns take the place of a noun (person, place, or thing) and are used in everyday speaking and writing. Gender pronouns, therefore, take the place of people’s names and are often used interchangeably without cognition. For example, you may find yourself saying, "He took the dog for a walk," or "She is best friends with Norm the Niner," these are some examples of how gender pronouns are used in everyday conversations. This is because our brains have been socialized to make associations with how we perceive someone and which pronouns we use. However, this could be extremely harmful.
The IEE recognizes that gender exists on a spectrum and is not binary in nature. It is important to use the correct pronouns when referring to someone in order to respect their humanity. Some examples of pronouns are they/them, she/her, he/him, amongst many others and combinations of any and all.
Many people use pronouns outside of she/her and he/him. The pronouns they/them are not limited to plural use and can be used to describe one person and not just a group of individuals.
An individual's pronouns does not indicate that individual's gender identity. Regardless of one's gender identity they have the right to use any pronouns that feel best for them.
Misgendering someone by using the incorrect pronouns falls under the category of gender-based discrimination, especially if there is a pattern to this behavior. Not only is it discriminatory, it goes against the values of the mission of the IEE in celebrating and supporting the expansion of identities.
Misgendering is part of a larger system of discrimination and oppression. It normalizes cissexism and contributes to disparate outcomes for trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people, including higher rates of suicide and disproportionate experience of bias related incidents.
If you have experienced gender discrimination, please know that the IEE is available to support you. You may also choose to report the discrimination through BART, our bias related incident reporting form or through the Title IX Office on campus. Misgendering or misnaming by students, faculty, or staff is not acceptable and is reportable.
- University Policy 501: Nondiscrimination and Procedures for Addressing Reports of Discrimination
- University Policy 406: Code of Student Responsibility
- University Policy 501.2: Regulation Regarding Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, or Transgender Status