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Personal Pronouns

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.


Subject Pronoun: She  He  They Ze
Object Pronoun:  Her Him Them Hir
Possessive Pronoun:  Her/Hers       His              Their/Theirs Hir/Hirs     
Reflexive Pronoun: Herself Himself Themselves Hirself

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.

To change your pronouns within Wolverine Access, use this text guide. Click here for a visual guide on how to change your pronouns in Wolverine Access. Faculty and staff can also designate their pronouns in Wolverine Access.

To add your pronouns to your display name within Canvas, please use this visual guide.

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 your personal pronouns after your name. Please follow this quick guide to learn how to change your display name temporarily or permanently in Zoom and BlueJeans.

The Spectrum Center has compiled a resource guide on how to update your University records to include your pronouns

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.

Email Signature

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

University of Michigan Spectrum Center 

Trans Student Education Resource


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