LGBTIQ+ Inclusive Language & Pronouns

Pronouns at UNSW

Pronouns are used to refer to people when we are not using their name. Using the correct pronoun shows respect. In the English language, pronouns often indicate gender. For many trans and gender diverse people, using the correct pronouns is an important and validating part of their gender affirmation. Some trans and gender diverse people may use gender-neutral pronouns, rather than binary male-female pronouns.

This video guide to pronouns from Minus18, an Australian NGO championing LGBTIQ+ youth, explains the importance of pronouns.

UNSW encourages staff and students to include their pronouns in their email signatures.

Example Email Signature:

Name (she/her)

Division of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Lower Ground, Chancellery
UNSW Sydney
E: W:

Tips on using names and pronouns

1. Role model the use of pronouns next to your name.

Irrespective of whether there are trans of gender diverse people present, display your name and pronouns. For example:

  • On your desk plaque
  • On the corner of a whiteboard when presenting
  • In your email signature
  • On Zoom and Teams and other digital platforms.
2. Appropriately and respectfully ask for pronouns.

The easiest way to ask someone about their pronouns is to share your own. By opening the conversation with your pronouns, you are normalising the act of sharing of pronouns in public spaces and interactions.

Example: "Hello, my name is Charlie and I go by 'she, her, hers' pronouns. What pronouns do you use?" OR "How would you like me to refer to you?"

3. Be careful not to 'OUT' trans and gender diverse staff or students.

If a staff member or student shares their gender identity with you, do not share it with others unless you have their expressed permission.

4. Own your mistakes.

Acknowledge when you have made a mistake about someone's pronouns and correct yourself.

Unlearning gender socialisation takes time, and you are bound to make mistakes. Model the behaviour you expect.

Example: "Oh, she's a great friend. I'm sorry, I meant they are a great friend. They always send me funny videos to cheer me up."

5. Call out misgendering.

Honouring staff and student names and pronouns includes making sure that other people also use the correct names and pronouns. If someone else misgenders and staff member or student, politely provide a correction whether the person is present or not.

Example: Someone says, "Oh, she's a great friend." Your response can be, "You're right, they are a great friend. Also, just so you know, Sam uses 'they/them/theirs' pronouns."