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Trans and Non-Binary Resources: How Can You Avoid Misgendering Someone?

How Can You Avoid Misgendering Someone?

Don't challenge someone's identity.

DON'T: "You don't look/sound like an Emily!"
DO: Accept a their identity. If you need to confirm they're who they say, use other information, such as phone number or home address.

Avoid use of "sir" and "ma'am."

DON'T: "How can I help you, ma'am?"
DO: "How can I help you?"

DON'T: "Excuse me, sir."
DO: "Excuse me."/"Excuse me, please."

Don't refer to students as male or female.

DON'T: "The woman over there needs help."
DO: "The student/instructor/patron over there needs help."

DON'T: "Good morning, ladies and gentlemen!"
DO: "Good morning, everyone!"

Use singular they.

Use singular they for people whose pronouns you don't know and for people who use they/them pronouns.

Feel empowered to ask others what their pronouns are. (Offer yours first!)

A trans or nonbinary person's pronouns are not their "preferred" pronouns. The pronouns they use are their pronouns.

That's it.

More examples:

  • Instead of chairman, chairwoman
  • Use chair, chairperson

  • Instead of father/mother, grandfather/grandmother, brother/sister
  • Use parent, grandparent, siblings

  • Instead of husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend
  • Use spouse, partner, significant other

  • Instead of manpower, "man the registration tables"
  • Use staff, staffing, "staff the registration tables"

  • Instead of fireman, policeman, mailman
  • Use firefighter, police officer, mail carrier

  • Instead of men, women, ladies and gentleman
  • Use y’all, people, everyone, everybody, folks, colleagues

How to Greet People


caption "how to greet people." there are three examples, boy, girl, and non-binary, all examples are captioned "Hi all, nice to be here!"

Pronouns: How Do You Ask?

Gender-Inclusive Pronouns on Canvas