Pronouns Matter

We understand that faculty, staff, students and all members of the UW-Madison campus community want to provide a warm, welcoming, and inclusive environment for one another. One small way we can make UW more inclusive is using language, including pronouns, conscientiously.

Pronouns are words that a person uses to identify themself in place of their name; almost everybody, including cisgender people, uses pronouns. Some examples of pronouns include: she/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/theirs, ze/hir/hirs, per/per/pers, etc. While some of these pronouns may be new to you, many of them have been widely used in English for a long time. Singular they has been in use in standard English since Chaucer!

GSCC: Pronoun guide (PDF)

Minus18: pronouns practice game

Practice with Pronouns game 

Academic style guides are now beginning to catch up with practices of gender-inclusive language, including most recently the APA’s endorsement of singular they in the 2019 Seventh Edition.

APA Style: Singular “They”

Using Gender-Neutral Pronouns in Academic Writing – The Writing Center – UW–Madison

In academic and professional settings, introducing yourself with your pronouns is an effective way to challenge the norm that pronouns can be assumed, while creating space for others to share their pronouns also if they choose. 

  • This can be done digitally by adding pronouns to your online profiles and including pronouns in your email signature. 
  • For an in-person visual marker, you might put pronouns on your name tag, wear a button, or write pronouns on a table tent. 
  • In classroom settings, students may choose to add pronouns to table tents, seating charts, informational index cards, or may email you with details. A variety of options is best practice.
  • In person or over the phone, if you are building a relationship with that person where you need to know pronouns, you can try simply modeling pronoun introductions. For example, “Nice to meet you! My name is Taylor and I use she and her pronouns.”

Thank you for working to uplift transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming communities! More resources below:

GSCC: TGQ community page

GSCC: Trainings & resources

UW-Madison protects sex, gender, gender expression, and sexual orientation in its nondiscrimination policies (Board of Regents policy 14.6). If you need support around bias or discrimination, please reach out to the GSCC, the Multicultural Student Center, the Dean of Students Office, or your trusted friends and mentors. We value you.

Based on UNC Greensboro resource page (accessed 2020): UNC Greensboro: Why Pronouns Matter