What is a Personal Pronoun?
A pronoun is a word that refers to either the people talking (like I or you) or someone or something that is being talked about (like she, them, and this).
Personal pronouns (like he, hers, ze) specifically refer to people that you are talking about. Below are several of the more common personal pronouns and their usage. However, this is by no means an exhaustive list and one should feel free to use what is most comfortable to them.
Learn more about personal pronouns here: https://spectrumcenter.umich.edu/article/designated-pronouns
Why is it important to respect designated personal pronouns?
Many times, a person's appearance and gender/gender expression and identity are not the same. This can lead to making assumptions about people that sends a potentially harmful message. Knowing and sharing personal pronouns is one of the most basic ways to show respect for a person's gender identity and expression.
When someone is referred to with the wrong pronoun, it can make them feel disrespected, invalidated, dismissed, alienated, or dysphoric (or, often, all of the above).
In addition, given Taubman’s international population, we don't always know how people prefer to be referred as based on their names. Using gender pronouns can help us teach and learn about the many names and appropriate pronouns from around the world.
What if I make a mistake?
It’s okay! Mistakes happen.
If you use the wrong pronoun, acknowledge the mistake, correct it, and then move on.
If you forget someone’s personal pronouns, follow the same protocol: acknowledge the mistake, correct it, and move on.
Personal Pronouns at University of Michigan
As part of the University of Michigan’s commitment to fostering an environment of inclusiveness, the Office of the Provost created a process for students to designate their preferred personal pronouns with the University and have those pronouns reflected on class rosters.
One can see how to make this change to your pronouns within Wolverine Access by clicking here. Faculty and staff can also designate pronouns.
Given the transition to remote learning, online conferencing platforms like Zoom and Bluejeans are our most common way to conduct class. Both platforms offer up opportunities to change your displayed name and can easily include the phonetic pronunciation of your name. Please follow this quick guide to learn how to change your display name temporarily or permanently in Zoom and BlueJeans.
Students are encouraged to speak with their professors and peers about how they would like to be addressed. Faculty and staff are also encouraged to speak with their supervisors and co-workers about their preferred personal pronouns.
As a way to guide people to use the personal pronouns you prefer and show solidarity for intersex, transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people, we invite you to add the statement below to your email signature under your name (please change pronouns to match your gender identity/expression):
"Pronouns: she/her/hers (Click here to learn more about pronouns)"
Including personal pronouns in our signature can also signal that we want to learn and share with others how we/they want to be referred as, potentially sending a rippling effect to others to adopt the same practice.
Other University Resources