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Pronouns Matter


Pronouns are used in every day speech and writing to take the place of people's names. We frequently use them without thinking about it. Often, when speaking of someone in the third person, these pronouns have a gender implied. These associations are not always accurate or helpful.

Mistaking or assuming peoples' pronouns without asking first, mistakes their gender and sends a harmful message. Using someone's correct gender pronouns is one of the most basic ways to show your respect for their identity. Join the Women and Gender Equity Center as we aim to advance the knowledge of using everyone's correct gender pronouns and strive for a more inclusive environment at California State University San Marcos.

Pronouns: It's About Respecting Someone's Identity

How can I be inclusive in using and respecting pronouns?

  • Edit your email signature to include your pronouns.

    It has become quite common in diverse and inclusive environments to add your gender pronouns in your email signature. This new better practice helps minimize misgendering and is an important strategy towards inclusivity. Below you will find some samples that you may incorporate in your email signature:

    Example 1:
    First Last, M.Ed.
    Pronouns: they, them, theirs
    Director, Women and Gender Equity Center
    California State University San Marcos
    333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd. 
    760-750-4998  |

    Example 2:
    First Last, M.Ed.
    Director, Women and Gender Equity Center
    Office of Diversity and Outreach
    California State University San Marcos
    333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd. 
    760-750-4998  |
    Pronouns: they, them, theirs

    Example 3:
    First Last, M.Ed. (they, them, theirs)
    Director, Women and Gender Equity Center
    California State University San Marcos
    333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd.
    Why I include my pronouns in my signature.

  • Use your pronouns during verbal introductions and check-ins.

    A great way to create and normalize space for people to share their pronouns is first to share your own.  Keep in mind that there is a privilege of appearing in a way that fits both your gender and the pronouns that many people associate with your gender. In other words, if people’s assumptions are correct, never having to name those assumptions begins to normalize the very process of making assumptions (which for others may be incorrect). Thus, sharing pronouns is a great way to disrupt the normalization and privilege of assumption.

    Some ways to introduce your pronouns are:

    • Add pronouns to your name badges
    • "My name is Marc and my pronouns are they and them"
    • "Hi, my name is Mari and I go by the pronoun 'she'"
    • "I'm Hiro and I prefer 'he' and 'him' pronouns"


  • Ask don't assume

    Asking about a person's pronouns may initially feel awkward or uncomfortable, but it is preferable to making hurtful assumptions and using the wrong pronoun. Here are some ways you can do this:

    • "What pronouns do you use?"
    • "How would you like me to refer to you?"
    • "How would you like to be addressed?"
    • "Can you remind me which pronouns you like for yourself?"
    • "My name is Joshua and my pronouns are he, him, and his. What about you?"

    While asking for pronouns is important, some folks may not be ready to share their pronouns.  It is just as important to not pressure anyone into sharing information that they do not want ot share.

  • Wear a pronoun button

    Pick up a Pronoun button from the Women and Gender Equity Center and pin it on your bag, backpack, or lapel.

    they-them pronouns         she-her pronouns         he-him button


Additional Resources

Incorporating pronouns into our every day consciousness is a process that takes practice.  For additonal resources here are some additional resources.