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Northumbria University supports inclusion through supporting use of pronouns

Pronouns, what are they?

Gender pronouns enable individuals to be referred to in a way that reflects their gender identity. Examples of pronouns include he/she/they.

Pronouns are particularly important to transgender people and people who identify as non-binary as pronouns are a way for them to communicate their gender identity.

When a person shares their pronouns, they are not only sharing their gender identity, they are making clear how they want to be referred to by someone else.


Why do pronouns matter?

Pronouns strengthen the identity of transgender and non-binary people. They can help to give a sense of self in environments where individuals may be very much in the minority.

When the use of pronouns is normalised it can provide some comfort. Using and respecting an individual’s choice of pronoun can help demonstrate an understanding that the use of pronouns can be important to transgender and non-binary people.

When offered, the use of pronouns can also be a way of communicating a person’s gender identity without having to have uncomfortable conversations about gender identity or having to formally ‘come out’, things which could cause considerable anxiety and distress for some transgender and non-binary people.


How pronouns support other types of inclusion

Northumbria is a community of people with a diverse range of backgrounds and characteristics and we operate within a global space. This means that we have diversity in race, ethnicity and nationality, and we all encounter names which may not be familiar to us. Sharing pronouns alongside names can help support colleagues and students by avoiding misgendering, and when used in conjunction with phonetic pronunciation in email signatures, or a link to an online tool such as #Mynameis, helps to support misnaming.

Misnaming and misgendering is very othering and can be interpreted as a microaggression. If done deliberately is a form of overt aggression and harassment. While it is okay to make a mistake (and for that mistake to be corrected) we should consider the effect this has on the person, particularly when this happens repeatedly.

In a time where our interactions with one another are increasingly online, using pronouns and #Mynameis are two simple ways to help one another get it right first time around. 


How do I use them?

Introducing yourself

Introduce yourself with your pronouns. You may not be trans or non-binary yourself but introducing yourself with your pronouns alongside your name is the best way to make trans and non-binary people feel included. If you start doing this then others will follow, so make this business as usual in every meeting and interaction you have.

You can share your pronoun in meetings during your usual introduction e.g. “My name is …, my pronouns are …, I’m responsible for…/I work in … etc” or if you are able to change your screen name in a virtual meeting you could add your pronoun in brackets after your name.

Email signature

Adding pronouns to your email signature is a very simple way of showing commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion. It is a discreet way to avoid misgendering someone which can be very hurtful for trans people and embarrassing for non-trans people. It also signals that you are a trans ally and will help everyone to refer to each other in a respectful way.


Being a better ally

Talking about your pronouns is one easy way to be a transgender ally and an ally to the non-binary community. But it actually goes beyond trans and non-binary equality.

When cisgender people do it as well, it normalises discussions about gender – a conversation that benefits everyone.


For further information on the importance of using pronouns, please visit the Useful Links and Resources page.



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