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Pronouns

Pronouns 101

For a poster version of the information on this page, please stop by the RCSGD!

For a PDF version, please click here.

The University of California's nondiscrimination policy, Title IX, and The Fair Employment & Housing Act include protections for sex and gender identities.

A key element of creating a safe space for people of all gender identities is the respectful use of correct pronouns for others.

What are Pronouns?

Pronouns are used in every day speech and writing to take the place of people's names. 

Example: Naomi transferred to UCSB this year. They are excited to get involved on campus!

We frequently use them without thinking about it. Often, when speaking of someone in the third person, these pronouns have a gender implication. These associations are not always accurate or helpful because you cannot tell what pronouns someone uses by the way they look or vice versa. 

Asking and using someone's correct pronouns are two of the most basic ways to show your respect for their identity. Join the RCSGD as we aim to advance the knowledge of using everyone's correct pronouns and strive for a more inclusive environment at UCSB.

It is important to note that some people do not use pronouns at all. In that case, you would repeat the name of the person instead of using a pronoun.

Example: Mateo transferred to UCSB this year. Mateo is excited to get involved on campus!

Common Pronouns

Below are some common pronouns, but there are SO MANY more!

pronouns table

Why is it important for the UCSB campus community to ask and respect pronouns?

  • Asking UCSB community members what their pronouns are and consistently using them correctly is one of the most basic ways to show respect. This can determine within the first few minutes if they will feel respected at UCSB or not.
  • Discussing and correctly using pronouns can truly make all of the difference, especially for new community members that may feel particularly vulnerable in a new environment.
  • When someone is referred to with the wrong pronoun, it can make them feel disrespected, invalidated, dismissed, alienated, or hurt.

How do I ask about pronouns?

It is important to ask what pronouns people use to foster an environment of respect where everyone has the opportunity to indicate how they want to be referred to in the third person.

Individual Interaction

The best way to ask about pronouns in an individual interaction is to introduce yourself and share yours first.

  • “My name is Naomi and I use they.them pronouns. What is your name and what pronouns do use?”

Group Setting

Starting off introductions in a meeting with pronouns is a great way to allow people to indicate how they want to be referred to in the third person.

  • “Let’s go around and say our name, pronouns, and major.”

What if I make a mistake?

We are not perfect, so if you make a mistake, apologize, correct yourself and move on.

  • “Oh, I’m sorry, I meant they.”

If someone else makes a mistake correct them

  • “Naomi uses they/them pronouns.”

What if I can’t ask about pronouns or do not know?

  • Use the person’s name or the gender inclusive pronoun: they.them until you can ask 

Where Can I Implement my Pronouns?

You are encouraged to add your pronouns in the following ways:

  • When you do individual and group introductions 
  • On your name tags
  • On your name plates and door
  • On your business cards
  • On your email signatures

Where can I learn more?

Learn more about pronouns here.

Practice using different pronouns here.