She, he, they. What pronoun should you use?
February 2, 2023
Do you ever stop and think about what pronoun (she, he, they) to use when referring to other people? International Transgender Day of Visibility on 31 March is an opportunity for us all to reflect on what pronouns we use.
When we’re born, we are usually said to be male or female based on what our bodies look like. As we grow up we call little boys ‘he’, and little girls ‘she’, and we don’t give it a second thought.
But for transgender people, if they do not identify with the gender pronoun that others use about them, it can feel uncomfortable and painful.
Our pronoun (such as he or she) is part of our identity and we expect this to be respected.
Sometimes we get other people’s pronouns wrong accidentally because a name is gender neutral (such as Bobby or Ashley), or someone’s appearance may not tell us their gender. Or perhaps they have a name we are not familiar with because it’s from a language or culture we are less aware of.
It is also not always clear what pronoun to use for transgender and non-binary people. This may be because we don’t know what pronoun they prefer, or because a person is transitioning and their pronouns have changed.
It can feel quite daunting for transgender people to have to explain to others what pronouns they prefer to use.
To help support transgender and non-binary people, many people in our society have started to proactively share and explain their own pronoun preference, such as by adding their pronouns to their social media profiles or email autosignature. This helps ‘normalise’ the process of stating your gender and it is one of the easiest ways to be an LGBTQ+ ally.
It’s worth noting some people prefer to be referred to as ‘they/them’. You might see the following combinations:
Getting used to talking about pronouns will help reduce the incidence of misgendering (calling someone by the wrong gender) and ensure everyone is comfortable and respectful of pronouns.
Some colleagues have decided to start including their pronouns in their email signature. This is entirely optional and a personal choice. No one should feel pressured to declare their pronoun if they don’t feel comfortable doing so.
If you would like to declare your pronouns, just go into your signature settings in Outlook, and add after your name, such as (she/her), (he/him) or (they/them).
International Transgender Day of Visibility
International Transgender Day of Visibility, on 31 March each year, is dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide, as well as a celebrating their contributions to society.
Together, partners across Bradford District and Craven stand side by side with the trans community today and every day. You are important, you are valid and you enrich our communities.
Jody Leach, Business Information Governance Officer at Bradford Council and joint chair of our LGBTQ+ staff network, said: “Transgender Day of Visibility is marked around the world, and celebrates the contribution of transgender people to society and also offers the opportunity to amplify the voices of our trans communities. We are committed to striving for equality and inclusion for the trans and non-binary community within our organisation, and we are proud of Bradford’s status as an LGBTQ+ friendly district.
“Our LGBTQ+ staff network is here to support all our transgender and non-binary colleagues in whatever way you need, for support and connection, and we welcome you to get involved. Please get in touch in complete confidence if you’d like to find out more. You can contact us at: LGBTQ@bradford.gov.uk“
Help and advice
For help and advice on LGBTQ+ issues, both locally and nationally:
- Bradford Equity Partnership – www.equitypartnership.org.uk/
- Yorkshire MESMAC – www.mesmac.co.uk/
- Trans-actual – www.transactual.org.uk/
- Mermaids – https://mermaidsuk.org.uk/
- A guide to supporting and building inclusion for transgender colleagues | theHRD (thehrdirector.com)
- MyPronouns.org Resources on Personal Pronouns
- What Are Pronouns? Why Do They Matter? — MyPronouns.org Resources on Personal Pronouns
- Transgender Day of Visibility | GLAAD