Using Gender-Inclusive Language
Words are powerful and can be used to convey a sense of belonging and inclusiveness and can assist in creating a space where everyone feels, respected, and welcomed. This type of inclusiveness requires the intentional and thoughtful use of words especially when they relate to gender-inclusive language and the use of pronouns.
Pursuant to our shared values and goals to embrace the diversity of people and ideas, a spirit of inclusiveness, a global perspective, and a sense of community as the essential condition for campus life, Texas State University supports and encourages inclusive, gender-neutral language.
What it means to use gender-inclusive language
Using gender-inclusive language means speaking and writing in a way that does not discriminate against a particular sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or gender stereotypes. “Given the key role of language in shaping cultural and social attitudes, using gender-inclusive language is a powerful way to promote gender equality and eradicate gender bias” (www.un.org).
Why it's important to use gender-inclusive language
In social, academic, and professional settings, offering one’s personal pronouns – she/her, he/him, they/them – has become an increasingly common way to introduce oneself. It provides an opportunity for someone to step outside of a binary, gender-specific identification and increases awareness that not everyone is comfortable in having society assign them to a specific box. “Neo-pronouns are pronouns created to be specifically gender-neutral including xe/xem, ze/zir, and fae/faer. Pronouns are sometimes called Personal Gender Pronouns, or PGPs. For those who use pronouns – and not all people do – they are not preferred, they are essential” (www.pflag.org).
How to use gender-inclusive language
To create a more inclusive and welcoming community, each of us can act to collectively make a difference. Here are some best practices to follow:
- Use inclusive language in all communications whether internal, external, formal, or informal. E.g., use spouse or partner rather than husband and wife, identify parent or guardian rather than mother or father, use them/theirs when a person’s pronouns are unknown.
- Develop gender-neutral and inclusive job descriptions. A well-written job description with inclusive language will not only show candidates that we are an inclusive workplace, but it will also attract a diverse talent pool that may not have otherwise applied for a job posting. Gendered job descriptions could unintentionally marginalize and alienate potential candidates.
- Don’t assume a person’s preferred name and pronouns. Lead by example and introduce yourself with your name and your pronouns. Sometimes people do not feel comfortable sharing their pronouns. However, in general, it is safe to use they/them/theirs unless the person tells you otherwise.
- Model inclusive language. Instead of using “you guys”, try using non-gendered words such as, “everyone”, “you all”, “students”, “colleagues”, or “scholars”
- Remember, pronouns are one of the many ways we express our identity. They are the words used to refer to a person other than their name. Common pronouns are they/them, he/him, and she/her.
Creating a working and learning environment where everyone is respected, welcomed, and encouraged to be their true authentic selves, is very important. The use of gender-neutral language promotes social change and gender equality. Always look for ways to increase awareness of gender-neutral language to support and create an inclusive Texas State community.
To learn more, visit:
- Gender Neutral Language in the Workplace: Why it Matters
- A Guide to Using Pronouns and Other Gender-Inclusive Language in the Office
- PFLAG National Glossary of Terms
- Practices to Build Trans-Affirming Workplaces and Why They Matter
- Gender Decoder for Job Ads
- LinkedIn Learning – Using Inclusive Language