Resources for the TC Student Community
Below you will find information about pronouns are, how to use them, and why they matter. You’ll find a useful video, a Frequently Asked Questions section, and various resources for navigating pronoun usage and gender identity at Teachers College and Columbia University.
Watch this informative video for information about what pronouns are, how to use them, and how to create an inclusive environment here at Teachers College and beyond.
A pronoun is used in place of a person’s name. Examples: “They are going to the store.” “I wonder what ze is doing today?” “That item is hers.”
Often, when speaking of an individual in the third person, pronouns have a gender implied, such as “he” to refer to a man/boy or “she” to refer to a woman/girl. These associations are not always accurate or helpful. Some commonly used pronouns include (but are not limited to):
Offering and asking for a person’s pronouns is a way to respect those around us and create an inclusive environment. Pronouns are especially important for LGBTQIA+ people. Similar to how it can be offensive or even harassing to make up a nickname for someone against their will, it can be offensive or harassing to guess someone’s pronouns and refer to them using those pronouns if that is not how the person wants to be addressed. People often make assumptions about the gender of another person based on the person’s appearance or name. These assumptions are not always correct, and the act of making an assumption may send a harmful message that people have to look or act a certain way to demonstrate the gender that they are or are not. Using the correct pronouns for others is a meaningful way of affirming another’s identity.
**LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, and other sexual & gender identities.
Gender identity is each person’s internal and individual experience of gender. It is a person’s conception of being a woman, a man, both, neither, or anywhere along the gender spectrum. A person’s gender identity may be different from their assigned sex at birth. We cannot know a person’s gender just by looking at them.
It’s important to ask someone what their pronouns are and not assume what you think they are. You can kindly ask someone if they are comfortable sharing examples of ways to use their pronouns.
Ways you can ask someone the pronouns they use:
Ways you can share your pronouns:
Individuals are sharing their pronouns on campus because, for many, it is a large part of their identity. By sharing our pronouns when we introduce ourselves in new groups, whether virtual or in person, we help to create a more inclusive campus environment. All are welcome and encouraged to share their pronouns to continue creating an inclusive community.
That being said, you are not required to share your pronouns. Each person is on a different journey in regards to their gender identity and might not be comfortable sharing their pronouns.
Sharing pronouns normalizes a space for people to share this part of their identity, particularly for trans and non-binary people. It is important to recognize the privilege of appearing in a way that fits one’s gender, name, and pronouns that others would associate with a particular gender. Sharing pronouns gives the community opportunities to model inclusivity, however it is not to discredit anyone who does not feel comfortable sharing pronouns either.
Although mistakes happen and we should be forgiving of our actions, we need to be mindful. The best thing to do if you use the wrong pronoun for someone is to correct the action in the moment. If you realize your mistake after the fact, apologize and move on with intention.
It is helpful to avoid over-apologizing as it can bring attention to the person whose pronouns weren’t used correctly and on the situation as a whole. Someone whose pronouns weren’t used correctly might feel pressured to respond to the over-apologizing by saying “That’s okay” even though it wasn’t okay for the incorrect pronouns to be used. If you accidentally use the wrong pronouns, apologize, use the correct pronouns, and move on.
Here’s an example of what you could do: “He… I’m sorry I meant she is going to be at the study session today.”
The best thing to do in this kind of situation is to politely correct the person who used the wrong pronoun to address someone else. For example, if you know that Person A uses they/them pronouns, but Person B refers to them as he, it is fair to correct Person B by saying “Person A uses they/them pronouns”. If there is repeated behavior from the same person using incorrect pronouns to address someone or others, continue to politely correct the person.
There are trans/non-binary individuals who get misgendered or addressed with the wrong pronouns and it can be taxing to have to correct others for themselves often. We must do our part through continuing to be respectful allies and offering support by challenging others to value inclusivity.
*Something important to note before correcting someone who has used the wrong pronoun: Some people may only use particular pronouns during certain times (i.e. use ze/zir at school, but he/him at home). Folks may make this choice for safety reasons or because they aren’t “out” to everyone. If you are not sure if the person who was misgendered has shared their pronouns with the person you are speaking to, ask them first before using the above correction method.
The best way to respond to someone who does not use your pronouns correctly depends on your comfort level and the situation. Here are some tips you can use depending on works best for you:
Other resources include the Student Support & Advocacy office which helps TC students navigate personal & academic difficulties or the Office of the Ombuds which is a confidential resource TC community members can use to resolve problems and conflicts.
Previously pronouns were referred to as “preferred pronouns” or “preferred gender pronouns,” but there has been a shift in utilizing this language because the word “preferred” implies that it is a recommendation instead of a fact. This could lead someone to believe they can use pronouns other than the ones a person uses, which is untrue.
Similarly, instead of asking for someone’s “preferred name,” you can simply ask for their name. Someone’s name and pronouns are not recommendations and are not preferences.
Log in to your myTC account and click on the “Student Resources” tab at the top of the home screen. Next, under the “Student Self-Service (SSB9)” section, click the link that says “Personal Information”. Click the “Edit” link on the top right corner of the page under the “Personal Details” section. You should be able to edit your pronoun information there.
If you do not see your pronouns listed, select “Other Pronouns” and a TC staff member will reach out to you to get your pronouns added to your profile.
You can follow these instructions provided by Zoom to update your pronouns on your TC account: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/4402698027533-Adding-and-sharing-your-pronouns
You can reach out to Graduate Student Life & Development (GSLD) at email@example.com or stop by the office in room 155 of the 528 Building.