Pride Center

Why Pronouns Matter for Everyone

Jump start the learning curve by educating yourself

Don’t make your Transgender and Non-binary peers do all the work in pronoun education. You can jump start the overall learning curve by educating yourself and boosting our reach with others around you.

Without realizing it, we use pronouns all the time. We use these pronouns in speech and writing to take the place of people’s name and many other proper nouns. One example lies in self-references: Every time you use ‘my’ or ‘mine’ you’re using a pronoun! Often, when speaking of someone in the third person, these pronouns have a gender implied (think he/she). These associations with gender are where our language can become triggering or divisive for folx whose gender expression doesn’t match their gender identity. Using someone's correct pronouns is one of the simplest ways to show your respect for their identity. 

Join the Pride Center and CSUN’s LGBTQ Advisory Committee as we aim to advance the importance of using everyone's correct pronouns and strive to make CSUN more inclusive. 

Why Are Pronouns Important?

Pronouns are important for many reasons! These reasons stem from how divisive pronoun assumptions can be for many individuals. Let’s break down how this can be so instantly harmful. 

  • You can’t know what someone's pronouns are by looking at them. Often, we make assumptions about the gender and pronouns of another person based on their appearance or name. These assumptions aren’t always correct.
  • The act of assuming (even if correct) sends a potentially harmful message that people must look a certain way to demonstrate the gender that they are or are not.
  • When someone is referred to with the wrong pronoun, it can make the individual feel disrespected, invalidated, dismissed, alienated, or hurt. This can determine within the first few minutes if they will feel respected at CSUN or not.
  • Sharing our pronouns and correctly using other people’s pronouns sets a tone of inclusion. It can truly make all the difference, especially for new community members who may feel particularly vulnerable in a new environment.
  • Many people may be learning about pronouns for the first time, so this will be a learning opportunity for the CSUN community. You will be setting an example for your peers.

Using Pronouns

People may choose to use a variety of pronouns, including neopronouns. Some people will use more than one set of pronouns or use no pronouns at all.

Neopronouns tend to refer to pronoun sets developed from the 20th century (or sometimes 19th century) to today. Neopronouns are not indicative of gender and could be used by genderfluid, nonbinary, transgender, or cisgender individuals.

Please note that there are no “male/female,” “man/woman” or “feminine/masculine” pronouns. All pronouns can be used for any gender.

Below is a list of some commonly used pronouns and how they are used. This is not an exhaustive list. It is good practice to ask which pronouns a person uses.

PronounsPronunciationSubjectObjectPossessivePosessive PronounReflexive
Ey/Em/EirsAy, Em, AirsEy studied.I texted em.Eir phone.That is eirs.Ey loves emself.
He/Him/HisHee, Him, HisHe studied.I texted him.His phone.That is his.He loves himself.
Per/Per/PersPur, Pur, PursPur studied.I texted per.Pers phone.That is pers.Per loves perself.
She/Her/HersShee, Hur, HursShe studied.I texted her.Her phone.That is hers.She loves herself.
TheyThem/Theirs (singular)They, Them, ThairsThey studied.I texted them.Their phone.That is theirs.They trust themself.
Ve/Ver/VersVee, Vur, VursVe studied.I texted ver.Vis phone.That is vers.Ve loves verself.
Xe/Xem/XyrsZee, Zem, ZeersXe studied.I texted xem.Xyr phone.That is xyrs.Xe loves xemself.
Ze/Hir/HirsZee, Heer, HeersZe studied.I texted hir.Hir phone.That is hirs.Ze trusts hirself.
Ze/Zir/ZirsZee, Zeer, ZeersZe studied.I texted zir.Zir phone.That is Zirs.Ze trusts zirself.
No Pronouns; Use Name Taylor studied.I texted Taylor.Taylor’s phone.That is Taylor’sTaylor trusts Taylor’s self.

Don’t panic over pronunciation! While above are some common ways to pronounce these pronouns, there are many variations, so it is best to ask how the individual pronounces them. Remember, if someone trusts you enough to share their pronouns with you, you should feel comfortable asking for clarification if you need it!  Here are some examples of how to ask:

  • “Hi, Sam, I noticed the pronoun “x-e” on your nametag and I want to make sure I am pronouncing that right. Can you tell me how you pronounce it?”
  • “Alex, I heard you say you use ze/zir pronouns and I want to make sure I’m using them correctly. Can you give me an example of how I use them?”


I’ve heard the phrase Preferred Gender Pronouns or PGPs. Why don’t you use that language at CSUN?

To say “preferred” gives room for people to ignore your preference. Pronouns are often a much deeper part of one’s identity than just a preference. I might prefer the color blue over yellow, but it is not a core part of my identity. The name someone chooses to go by and their pronouns are a very personal and thought through part of their identity. It is important to respect that.

How do I know which pronouns to use?

If the person you’re referring to is a stranger or brief acquaintance (like a server, cashier, fellow bus patron, etc.), you may not need to know. If the person is someone you interact with regularly, such as a classmate, student, or coworker, it is best to ask. Try:

  •  “My name is _______ and my pronouns are _______. What about you?” 
  •  “What pronouns do you use?”
  •  “How would you like me to refer to you?”
  •  “How would you like to be addressed?”

Some people may not wish to share their pronouns. If you do not know someone’s pronouns, try defaulting to they/them/theirs.

Are faculty and staff required to use the correct pronouns for students and colleagues?

Yes. California State University Executive Orders 1096 and 1097 protect students, faculty, and staff from discrimination based on gender. Under those policies, University community members are expected to respect each other’s pronouns and preferred names. Intentional misgendering (or, the intentional failure to use a person’s self-identified gender pronoun or name) could violate University policy with regards to not only the individual, but all members of the University community.

University faculty or staff who have questions regarding misgendering, hostile educational environments, or the prohibition against gender-based discrimination, should email the Office of Equity and Diversity or call 818-677-2077 for further information and guidance.

What if I make a mistake?

It happens. We all make mistakes! We recommend using R.A.M. (Relax, Apologize, Move on). The trans community often shoulder the burden of alleviating embarrassment and hurt feelings of cisgender individuals. Don’t excessively apologize or make it about yourself or how hard it is for you to learn new pronouns. Simply apologize, do better, and use the correct pronoun the next time.

How can I be more inclusive?

Below are some language swaps you can make to be more inclusive! 

Accurate Language

  • biological sex -> assigned sex at birth (ASAB)
  • sex or gender change -> transition
  • sex reassignment surgery -> gender affirming healthcare
  • non-trans or “regular” people -> cisgender people

Anti-Binary Language

  • you guys -> y’all
  • he or she -> they
  • men and women -> folks
  • ladies and gentlemen -> friends and colleagues 
  • sir or madam -> esteemed guest
  • husband or wife -> partner
  • brothers and sisters -> siblings
  • Mr./Mrs./Ms./Miss -> addressee’s name

Affirming Language

  • gender identity -> gender
  • preferred pronouns -> pronouns
  • men and trans men -> men
  • women and trans women -> women

Below are some strategies you can incorporate into your everyday use:

  • Share your pronouns when you introduce yourself.
  • (Faculty) Add your pronouns on your syllabus.
  • Include your pronouns on name tag and business cards.
  • Display your pronouns on your social media platforms. 
  • Add your pronouns to your email signature. Here’s an example:
    Sarina Loeb
    Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs or She/Her/Hers
    Manager, Pride Center
    University Student Union
    California State University, Northridge
    18111 Nordhoff Street
    Northridge, CA 91330-8272
  • Add your pronouns on Zoom.
    • Go to
    • Go to Profile and then edit.
    • Include your pronouns in either the First Name or Last Name field.
  • Add your pronouns to myNorthridge Portal, which will display on class rosters and Canvas. 

Educational Resources