Gender Pronoun Resources

What are gender pronouns?

A pronoun is a word that refers to either the people talking (I or you) or someone or something that is being talked about (she, it, them, and this). Gender pronouns (ex: they, zir, she, he, etc.) specifically refer to people that you are talking about. 

Why is it important for SMU faculty, staff, and students to respect gender pronouns?

  • Asking SMU community members what their pronouns are and consistently using them correctly is one of the most basic ways to show your respect for their gender identity.  This can determine within the first few minutes if they will feel respected at Samuel Merritt University or not.
  • Discussing and correctly using gender pronouns sets a tone of respect and allyship that trans and gender nonconforming people do not take for granted.  It can truly make all of the difference, especially for incoming students that may feel particularly vulnerable, friendless, and scared. 
  • You can't always know what someone’s gender pronoun is by looking at them.  It is a privilege to not have to worry about which pronoun someone is going to use for you based on how they perceive your gender. If you have this privilege, yet fail to respect someone else's gender identity, it is not only disrespectful and hurtful, but also oppressive.  When someone is referred to with the wrong pronoun, it can make them feel disrespected, invalidated, dismissed, alienated, or dysphoric (or, often, all of the above.).
  • Many people may be be learning about gender pronouns for the first time, so this will be a learning opportunity for them that they will keep forever.  You will be setting an example for your class and colleagues: If you are consistent about using someone's pronouns, they will follow your example.

(Adapted from

How can I be inclusive in using and respecting gender pronouns?

Incorporate gender pronouns in everyday use, with strategies like:

  • Editing your email signature (see below).
  • Asking during verbal introductions. It can feel awkward at first, but it is not as awkward as getting it wrong or making a hurtful assumption.  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 Tou and my pronouns are he and him. What about you?”
  • Be on the lookout for gender pronoun stickers to use on your SMU ID badge, which will be available soon.

Sample Email Signatures for Gender Pronouns

Example 1

Samuel Merritt (they, them, theirs)
Clinical Instructor
Samuel Merritt University
1720 S. Amphlett Blvd., Suite 300
San Mateo, CA, 94402

Example 2

Gender Pronouns Overview

Samuel Merritt, RN
Campus Coordinator
Pronouns: he, him, his
Samuel Merritt University
450 30th Street
Oakland, CA 94609

Example 3

Samuel Merritt, PhD
Administrative Assistant
Sacramento Regional Learning Center
2710N Gateway Oaks Drive, Suite 300
Sacramento, CA 95833
Pronouns: she, her, hers

Example 4

Samuel Merritt
Associate Professor
Samuel Merritt University
Pronouns I respond to: she/her/hers and they/them/theirs

Example 5

Samuel Merritt, M.Ed.* 
Assistant Director
San Francisco Peninsula Learning Center
Samuel Merritt University
*Self-expression and self-identification is one of my professional and personal values. One way to practice these values is to share gender pronouns. My name is Samuel and I use she/her pronouns. What pronouns do you use? 


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