Pronoun Information

Pronouns are something that exists in everyday speech. Examples of pronouns include I, me, we, us, he, him, his, she, her, hers, they, them, theirs, it, etc. Pronouns are often used to supplement someone’s name to refer to them. For example, “Have you heard Adele’s latest song? She is so talented”. The pronoun she is referring to Adele. Even if you might not realize it, we all use pronouns every day to speak about ourselves, others, and objects. When it comes to the LGBTQIA2S+ community knowing more about pronouns, sharing your pronouns, and respecting others’ pronouns are small but impactful ways to be affirming. This section offers information, advice, and resources specifically about pronouns.

Pronouns and Gender

The sex that someone is assigned at birth (Male, Female, Intersex), is not the same as a person’s gender. The gender someone identifies with can be in alignment, or not, with their assigned sex. For instance, if someone was assigned male at birth, and identifies as a man, this person is cisgender or cis. Cis is a helpful term as it describes when a person’s gender and sex align. If someone’s gender and sex do not align they are transgender or trans, generally speaking. There are many options of terms for what people can use to describe their gender under the trans umbrella. Examples of genders are man, woman, trans man, trans woman, non-binary, genderqueer, agender, and more.

Pronouns are one way in which gender can be affirmed. She/her/hers and He/him/his are gendered pronouns where She/her/hers pronouns are often used by people who are female-identifying and He/him/his pronouns are often used by people who are male identifying. However, these pronouns can also be used by people who do not entirely identify as female or male. For example, someone might identify as non-binary and use some combination of these pronouns.

Pronouns share an important relationship to gender as they can be affirming of how someone identifies. For example, if someone is a trans man and uses he/him/his pronouns, using the correct pronouns affirms this person’s gender. This is also true for people who are not trans. Using the correct pronouns for someone who is cis can also be affirming. For example, if someone was assigned female at birth and uses she/her/hers pronouns, using these correct pronouns affirms this person's gender as a woman.

The pronouns that you use for someone have a much larger impact than you might realize. Using the pronouns that an individual identifies with can be just as impactful as calling someone by the name that they go by. Trans folks have carefully thought about the pronouns that they use. When you use the wrong pronouns for someone, this is called misgendering. Misgendering is uncomfortable for everyone and is both hurtful and harmful for the person being misgendered.

When you ignore someone’s pronouns or use the incorrect pronouns for someone, this implies:

  • You know someone better than they know themself
  • You would rather cause emotional harm to someone repeatedly rather than work on developing trust and safety by changing how you speak about them
  • Their sense of safety is not important to you in your relationship
  • You are demonstrating to folks around you how to treat this person (i.e. misgendering)
  • Their identity is not real or valid, and should not be acknowledged or respected
  • You are more comfortable offending and hurting them with your words rather than changing your behavior
  • You are not listening or respecting what they are saying
  • Them being themself is inconvenient for you
  • You would like this person to not be honest with you
  • You are not an ally, a friend, or someone this person can trust

Ignoring someone’s pronouns or consistently using incorrect pronouns for someone is different from making a mistake. Mistakes will happen, and that is okay. What matters is you correct it and move on. When a person uses new pronouns or pronouns that you are unfamiliar with, it can take some practice. Using the correct pronouns for someone also shows that you care about the person. Using the right pronouns for someone affirms their identity, demonstrates your active commitment to respecting them as a person, and indicates that you are committed to developing trust, safety, and respect in your relationships with others.

They/Them/Theirs Pronouns

They/them/theirs pronouns can be used for an individual. The singular use of they/them/theirs pronouns is older than the singular ‘you’ pronoun. If you are interested in learning more about this history, check out this Oxford English Dictionary Article.

They/them/theirs are often considered to be ‘gender-neutral’ pronouns. These pronouns are often (but not only) used by people who are non-binary or genderqueer.

Advice on they/them/theirs pronouns:

  • Practice often! It can be a switch to use they/them/theirs pronouns at first. It will get more comfortable with a little practice by putting in the effort!
  • If you do not know the pronouns someone uses, default to using they/them/theirs pronouns. You cannot tell what pronouns someone uses by looking at them. So, until you know by hearing from the person themself what pronouns they use, default to they/them. An important reason to do this is so then you are not assuming someone’s gender. Similarly, you would not try to assume someone’s name. Using they/them/theirs pronouns for strangers and acquaintances is a great way to also practice getting more comfortable using they/them/theirs pronouns.
  • If you mess up, it is okay. Quickly correct it by using the correct pronouns for someone and move on. Though this moment might be uncomfortable for you both, quickly correcting it with the right pronouns and moving on, will be the least uncomfortable.


In addition to she/her/hers, he/him/his, and they/them/theirs pronouns there are also neopronouns. Neopronouns are pronouns that are often used by some trans and non-binary folks. Neo-pronouns are generally considered to be gender-neutral pronouns. These pronouns expand the English vocabulary for gender-neutral pronouns as some folks may not feel that she/he/they pronouns best describe who they are.

Examples of neopronouns include: xe/xem/xyr, thon/thons/thons, ze/hir/hirs. See the pronoun chart below for more.

Here are a few pieces of advice, things to consider, and information to be aware of when it comes to someone’s pronouns:

  • If you make a mistake with someone’s pronouns either quickly apologize and then move on. Or if you mess up, correct yourself by stating the correct pronoun and then move on. The longer you draw out the mistake, the more uncomfortable it is for everyone.
  • It might take time to adjust to using new pronouns for someone. Practice often so using the new set of pronouns turns into a habit.
  • If you accidentally slip up on someone's pronouns do not lash out or blame the person. Also do not profusely apologize or share how hard it is for you to make the switch.
  • People’s pronouns and gender can change over time. People’s pronouns might change more than once as they learn what best describes them. Do your best to adjust when they share their new pronouns.
  • People can also use more than one set of pronouns. For example, someone might use both they/she pronouns. Whatever pronouns someone lists firsts are the pronouns they most identify with. So, default to those ones. Unless the person tells you that they use the pronouns interchangeably.
    • Tip: If someone uses more than one set of pronouns that include gender-neutral or neopronouns, do your best to use these pronouns as most people will default to binary he/she pronouns. Using gender-neutral or neopronouns can be a small act with a big impact.
  • People do not need to identify as trans, nonbinary, or gender non-conforming to use different pronouns. For example, someone might use they/them/theirs pronouns or a combination of pronouns but not identify as trans, but still fall under the LGBTQIA2S+ umbrella. And that is okay! The most important thing is to respect and use the correct pronouns for someone regardless of their gender.
  • Whether you agree or not, do not argue with this person about their pronouns. Just do your best to use the correct ones.
  • If you hear someone using the wrong pronouns for someone, politely correct them.
  • Do not use the phrases ‘preferred name’ or ‘preferred pronouns.’ This implies that the name and pronouns someone used to use are more valid. The word preferred also implies that the pronouns are a preference/optional and not mandatory. By just stating ‘name’ or ‘pronouns’ without the word preferred, this is validating to the person as it is not undermining in any way.

Pronoun Chart

she her her hers herself
he him his his himself
they them their theirs themself
xe xem xyr xyrs xemself
ze (or zie/sie with hir) hir hir hirs hirself
ze (or zie/sie with zir) zir/zem zir/zes zirs/zes zirself
ze (with mer) mer zer zers zemself
zhe, zher, zhim zhim zher zhers zhimself
(f)ae (f)aer (f)aer (f)aers (f)aerself
e/ey em eir eirs eimself
per per pers pers perself
ve ver vis vers verself
jee, jeir, jem jem jeir jeirs jemself
ne nem nir nirs nirself
thon thon thons thons thonself
tho and thong thor thors thor thongself