Transgender and nonbinary people at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville have a right to be referred to by pronouns that they prefer. Here is some information by Clare Forster, University Fellow, about the importance of using preferred/affirmed pronouns. 

Gender and Identity

Most of us don't give a second thought to our preferred gender pronouns. We were simply assigned a gender at birth, we identify with that gender, and we don't flinch when folks refer to us as "she" or "he." We've all likely encountered a moment when someone got our gender wrong, though, and we know how it feels to be labeled with the wrong gender pronoun. We feel our gender identity deserves respect, and we want others to honor how we identify as women or men. Of course, not everyone identifies as a woman or a man. 

Although most of us don't perfectly embody the gender we were assigned at birth, some of us feel or know that the gender we were assigned at birth doesn't fit us. Transgender individuals on campus and in our communities may not feel that the gender they were assigned at birth matches their current gender identity. As UW-Platteville community members, we strive to respect individuals' gender identities, and it's important to both ask about and honor our colleagues' preferred gender pronouns.

What are Preferred Gender Pronouns (PGPs)?

First, there are lots of options for pronouns beyond what we've already heard: she, her, and hers; he, him, and his. Many folks prefer the gender-neutral singular "they," as in "they handed their paper in on time." You can learn about other gender pronoun options like ze or xe, at the Doyle Center, or online.

If we're not sure what gender pronouns an individual prefers, we can politely ask. We might say, "My preferred gender pronouns are she, her, and hers. Can you tell me what yours are?" If we're leading a group or a class, we could explain that identifying our preferred gender pronoun is an important part of respecting our identities and the identities of our colleagues, and we could ask everyone to specify their preferred gender pronouns when they're introducing themselves. And we can practice using them! We can try swapping out the gender pronouns in our favorite song with a gender-neutral pronoun, "they," for example, when we're singing along.

Using Preferred Gender Pronouns

Once you know someone's PGP, do your best to use it in conversations with and about that person, even if they're not in the room. And if you find yourself tripping up and getting it wrong, apologize, and try to do better next time. Try to gently correct others if they get it wrong in conversation, too. Showing that you understand and support someone's PGPs is part of creating a supportive atmosphere on campus and in our broader communities.

Questions? Want some practice? Stop by the Doyle Center and talk with us!