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In English, gender pronouns are gender identifiers for the third-person singular. In the past, gender pronouns were separated into masculine (he/him/his) and feminine (she/her/hers). This separation of masculine and feminine is called gender binary and only recognizes men and women. Many people identify outside of the gender binary. Gender-neutral pronouns such as they/them or xe/xer/xers allow individuals to use pronouns they feel fit with their identities.
Pronouns, like personal names, are connected to a person's identity. Just as we can show respect by calling others by their correct name(s), we can show respect by using the correct pronouns. Using the wrong pronoun can make a person feel uncomfortable and possibly invalidated or alienated.
A person’s name or physical appearance do not necessarily indicate their gender so we should not make gender assumptions based on these. Names are often culturally linked and many names are used for different genders; not every name is specifically male or female. It can be challenging to determine a person's gender from their name alone. And some people do not identify with a binary gender.
At Walden University, like many other places, there are people from a variety of backgrounds and locations. Using correct pronouns can help to create a respectful and inclusive community.
We interact with many people every day, and not all may agree with our choice to share pronouns. Below is suggested language that you can use for specific situations where the topic may come up in conversation.
How else can you encourage conversation about gender pronouns--while also helping to infuse pronoun sharing into Walden's culture?
There are many reasons why people may choose not to share their gender pronouns.
Whatever the reasoning behind the choice not to identify your gender pronouns, the point is that you have the choice. The goal is to provide people with the opportunity to share their gender pronouns if they choose.
Below is a table of both gendered and gender-neutral pronouns, along with their pronunciations. It is important to note, though, that some people do not subscribe to any pronoun and may like to be referred to by name only. This is also not an exhaustive list.
|She||Her||Hers||shee, hur, hurs|
|He||Him||His||hee, him, hiz|
|They*||Them*||Theirs*||thei, them, thehrz|
|Xe||Xem||Xyrs||zee, zem, zeres|
|Ze||Hir||Hirs||zee, here, heres|
|Ze||Zir||Zirs||zee, zere, zeres|
|E||Em||Eirs||ay, em, airs|
* Though they / them / theirs are traditionally plural, these pronouns can be used as singular in this context. Example: Xander scored well on their final paper; they received an A.