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A guide to using gender neutral pronouns

The members of Students’ Union Council has voted to use gender neutral pronouns in any Students’ Union correspondence, meetings and activities in general.

Whether English is not your first language, gender neutrality does not exist in your language or you are just very unfamiliar with the concept, do not panic, here is a quick and simple guide to use gender neutral pronouns.

What is gender neutrality?

Gender neutrality is not making assumptions on someone’s gender identity by the way they look or act.

What is gender identity?

A person's perception of having a particular gender, which may or may not correspond with their birth sex. This is one’s internal sense of self as a man, woman, both, neither or something else.

Some examples of words that people use to describe their gender:

  • Man
  • Woman
  • Female
  • Male
  • Gender-fluid: when a person’s gender varies over time
  • Agender: when a person doesn’t identify with any particular gender
  • Non-binary: when you are not exclusively man or woman

Why is it important to respect gender neutrality?

It is important to respect gender neutrality because misgendering someone (using the wrong pronoun to define someone) can be a traumatic experience for the person that is being misgendered that can lead to mental health issues.

More generally it is about respecting everyone’s identity even if their identity is different from what your conception of gender is.

What are pronouns?

Most of the time, a pronoun is used to replace a noun. The following are all pronouns: he, she, they.

e.g. Charlie ran to the Union shop. She went straight for a can of Ubuntu cola because she, like the Union, doesn’t support Coca-Cola.

e.g. Jess is a Consent Coordinator because he thinks that a dress is not a yes!

e.g. Alex campaigns against the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), they believe that education is not for sale.

There are other gender neutral pronouns that people may use too.

What to do to avoid misgendering anyone:

  • Ask for pronouns at the beginning of every meeting (pronouns may change from one meeting to another so make sure to do it at the beginning of every meeting)
  • Use the pronoun they/them in your emails, Facebook posts and general communication if you don’t know what pronoun a person is using
  • Use they/them if you don’t know what pronoun a person is using

What to do if you use the wrong pronoun?

Apologise and move on, honest mistakes happen. :)


To avoid if you don’t know how someone wants to be addressed:

Non gender-neutral pronouns: he/ his, she /hers

To use:
Gender neutral pronouns: they /them or the pronouns someone has requested


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