Student Updated Names and Pronouns
A preferred, or updated, name is the use of a name, usually a first name, that is different from a person’s legal name. There are many reasons why someone may update their name, including reflecting gender identity, going by an Americanized name, wanting to disassociate with a previous name, or distinguishing oneself from someone with a similar name. Wherever possible, use a person’s preferred or updated name in conversation, email communication, and formal settings.
Faculty and staff:
Using appropriate names and pronouns is an important way of establishing norms of respect with your students. If you have access to a student or colleague’s legal name, treat this as confidential data and do not employ it unless there is a specific need for it to be used. There may be circumstances when a legal name is required. Limit the use of that name to those circumstances. There may be times when someone may not want the preferred name used. If you are hesitant about a particular context, you can ask privately what they might prefer.
As a professor, do NOT read names off of rosters. Use alternative attendance taking methods like asking the students present to identify themselves. Then settle any discrepancies with printed or electronic materials in private. Pass around an attendance sheet, asking individuals to write their names, their roster names (if different), and their pronouns. Bring supplies for individuals to make name tents for their desks. Make it clear that you’re asking that they write their name (which you know is not necessarily their roster name). Invite them to also include their pronouns. Collect the name tents at the end of class & hand them back at the beginning of all subsequent meetings. Be sure to make one for yourself as well.
It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with your students’ pronouns. Introduce yourself with your pronouns. By doing so you acknowledge that pronouns and names matter and individuals are more likely to feel comfortable doing the same. You can make it easy for people to share their pronouns with you by sharing your own pronoun verbally. For example, “I am Dr. Griselda Smith. You can call me Selda, and I use she/her/hers pronouns.” This is a great way to facilitate a safe space while respecting everyone’s boundaries and right of self-disclosure. If you do introductions, suggest that individuals say their names and pronouns. However, never insist someone say their pronouns. Insisting is counter productive to self-identification.
It is a good idea to ask “What pronoun do you use?” when you meet someone for the first time.
If you make a mistake, correct yourself as quickly as possible and try not to repeat the mistake. If you hear someone else use an incorrect pronoun, simply correct them by saying “I think that Dr. Selda uses she/her/hers.” Using appropriate names and pronouns shows that you’re willing to be inclusive.
Extra Resources & Additional Support: