This guide is intended to help the campus community learn to use each of its member's pronouns correctly. The practice of sharing and inviting others to share which pronouns they use helps respect the diversity of gender identities while fostering a safe and inclusive environment.
Personal pronouns are words you may like others to use in place of your proper name. Pronouns can be feminine, masculine, non-binary or gender-inclusive. Some individuals use no pronouns and instead prefer their name in all references.
It is important to use a person's correct pronouns and to avoid assumptions based on name or gender expression (clothing, hairstyle, voice, etc.). Assumptions about pronouns can lead to misgendering — being labeled or addressed by others in a way that does not reflect one's gender. This can cause an individual to feel disrespected, alienated and unsafe.
This practice can be a first step toward respecting identity and creating a more welcoming, inclusive space. SUNY Cortland encourages faculty, staff and students to use signatures, introductions or other tools as a convenient opportunity to self-identify and to show support. Including pronouns is always optional.
Ash Toklas (they, them, their)
Old Main, Room 1234
"My name is Petra and my pronouns are she, her, hers."
Pronouns are for everyone, regardless of gender identity or expression. All members of the campus community are encouraged to share their pronouns. Cisgender individuals (those whose personal identity and gender correspond with their sex assigned at birth) may do so as a way of helping to normalize this practice and to make their support visible.
Try to avoid referring to someone by a pronoun until you know which ones they use, keeping in mind some people don't use pronouns at all. Instead, refer to a person by their name until you are sure how they want to be addressed.
Some individuals may not feel comfortable using their pronouns in all spaces. One-on-one, or in a safe place, you can ask, “how would you like me to refer to you?” or “how would you like to be addressed?” Another option is, “I use these pronouns. How about you?”
Apologize, move on and use that person's correct pronouns in the future. A quick but genuine apology and correction is usually all that is needed.
SUNY Cortland is committed to creating a campus environment that is inclusive of transgender and non-binary members of our community. This includes being respectful and thoughtful about how we use language.
Pronouns change as they represent different parts of speech:
The table below shows which forms of a pronoun can be used in the sentences above. Please note: This is not an exhaustive list of pronouns.
|Subjective||Objective||Possessive adjective||Possessive pronoun||Reflexive|
If these pronouns are new to you, the best way to become familiar with them is to practice.
When referring to a specific individual, always use the pronouns that person provides. If you do not know someone's pronouns, do not use any.
When writing about an unspecified person, it is usually possible — and always preferable — to structure a sentence in a way that avoids gender. Here are some strategies for using inclusive language and sample sentences that have been reworded.