Resources & Services
The LGBT Queer Resource Center strives to provide students with the resources and training needed to become a successful student
at California State University, Fullerton.
What are Pronouns?
Personal pronouns are essentially how we refer to a singular person in third person. Pronouns typically imply a specific gender, such as he/his - boy, man or she/her - girl, woman, but a person’s pronouns do not dictate a person’s gender identity. Everybody has a set or sets of pronouns that they use, including cisgender and transgender people. Learn more about, "What are Pronouns and Why do they Matter?" For more information, please visit mypronouns.org.
You can also share your own pronouns by sharing a link to the pronoun you go by. Here are some widely-used pronouns: They, She, He, Ze. However there are a multitude of other pronouns as well and all of them are equally important.
Why are pronouns important?
- Using somebody’s correct pronouns is a way to respect them and create an inclusive environment.
- Just as it would be rude and hurtful to purposefully call somebody by an incorrect name, it would be offensive to purposefully use the incorrect pronoun when referring to somebody.
How do I know somebody’s pronouns?
Just like you can’t look at somebody and try to guess their name, you can’t look at a person and guess which pronouns they use.
When you meet someone, it’s best to ask what their pronouns are, so that you know how to refer to them respectfully. This can look different depending on your personal preference, but here are some examples:
- “Hi, it’s great to meet you! My name is Gabi and my pronouns are they/them. How should I refer to you?”
- “Welcome to our event. Before we begin, I’d like to go around the room and share our names and pronouns.”
After you know somebody’s pronouns, it’s best to ask when these pronouns are safe to use. For example:
- “Hi Gabi! Thanks for sharing your pronouns with me. Should I always use they/them pronouns for you, or are there certain spaces where I shouldn’t use they/them pronouns?”
A great way to make people feel comfortable sharing their pronouns is to share yours. Consider adding your pronouns to your business cards and email signatures if possible. Of course, we should always invite or encourage people to share their pronouns, not force them. If you don’t know somebody’s pronouns (because you haven’t been able to ask yet) a good habit is to refer to people using they/them pronouns until you know.
What should I do if I mess up and use the wrong pronouns?
It’s okay, mistakes happen! If you recently made a mistake referring to someone, here are some tips:
- First, apologize . This should be as quick and simple as possible, as to not draw attention to the situation or yourself.
- Then, correct yourself and continue .
- For example: “I was talking to her, sorry I mean them . I was talking to them and they said they would meet us later. ”
It’s important to correct yourself in the moment and mentally so that you reinforce the habit of using the correct pronouns to refer to somebody.
If somebody corrects you on their pronouns, don’t be embarrassed! Thank the person for sharing their pronouns and indicate that you will use the correct ones going forward.
If you’re having trouble using the correct pronouns for somebody, practice referring to them on your own verbally. It might take some practice, but you’ll notice improvement and people will appreciate the effort!
- Try practicing “Gabi went to their car. They drive a subaru. I should buy them a coffee.”
What are Neopronouns?
Neopronouns are sets of pronouns often developed within the 19th and 20th century.
They are often used to further oneself from the gender binary, but many people use neopronouns for different reasons.
If you’re unsure how to use somebody’s pronouns, you can politely ask them for an example.
It’s important to note that questions should be kept respectful and polite. Before asking someone a possibly invasive question, ask yourself “Why do I need to know this about this person?” If your question will help you interact with or refer to this person, it’s probably an appropriate question. If not, consider asking staff at the LGBT Queer Resource Center for information or resources that will further your understanding of gender identity.
Gender Inclusive Language
Using gender inclusive language in everyday situations is a great way to move away from gender binary based worldviews.
Try using some of the following gender neutral alternatives:
- Y’all, Friends, Folks instead of guys or ladies and gentlemen.
- First Years instead of freshmen
- Who are you dating? instead of do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?
- Chairperson, Police Officer, Firefighter instead of Chairman, Policeman, or Fireman.
- Spouse, partner instead of husband or wife
If a gendered honorific is necessary (Mr. or Ms.) be sure to ask people what honorifics they use.
- Some non-binary, genderqueer, or gender-neutral folks will use Mx. but not all.
When using gender neutral terms in any language, consider your intention and how you are centering queer & trans narratives. Gender neutral language is a great first step, but the work shouldn’t stop there.
Spanish Language Pronouns & Gender Neutral Spanish
Many Latinx folks may choose to include Spanish pronouns in addition to or instead of English pronouns, as a conscious effort to center their Latinx identity and bring multiple identities into a space.
- Elle or Ellx are often used as gender neutral Spanish pronouns, seen as equivalent to they/them.
The words Latinx and Latine are often used to describe a group of mixed gender people in a gender neutral way. While Latinx/Latine may seem new within the context of higher education within the United States, the use of “x” has been used in the Spanish language to signify non-binary forms of gender for more than 20 years.
For more information on understanding pronouns, creating LGBTQIA+ inclusive environments, gender neutral language, and supporting LGBTQIA+ students, attend QT 101 series (geared towards CSUF students) or our LGBTQ Ally Training (geared towards faculty and staff.)
QT 101: The Plus is a Mus+
Check out this Zine, " QT 101: The Plus is a Mus+ " created by Minji Kim '20 and RJ Abesamis '22.
The LGBT Queer Resource Center holds numerous community and educational programs throughout the academic year to continue to inform our community of the important historical and cultural aspects of our identities. One of our principle programs is QT 101, an educational series covering various identities, issues, and topics within the Queer community.
Coming Out vs. Inviting In - Supporting Folks on National Coming Out Day
National Coming Out day is the held annually on October 11 to honor and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community. Learn about ways you can support LGBTQIA+ people on their journey to come out to their loved ones or invite loved ones in.