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Some helpful tips about pronouns and names

Members of our campus community represent all facets of the human experience, including when it comes to gender identity and expression. Just like in wider society, some of our community members are transgender, genderqueer, non-binary, agender, or have another gender identity and may use a name different from their birth name. Some cisgender (non-transgender) people use a name different from their birth name, too. If you would like to learn more about these terms and the lived experiences of people who use them, you can visit the following resources: (1) https://www.glaad.org/transgender/transfaq (2) https://transequality.org/issues/resources/understanding-non-binary-people-how-to-be-respectful-and-supportive and/or (3) https://www.npr.org/2021/06/02/996319297/gender-identity-pronouns-expression-guide-lgbtq 

Inclusive strategies for welcoming students and colleagues include: 

  1. Use the name the person asks you to use, regardless of whether the roster or participation list has a different name, and regardless of whether the roster name seems to be a name associated with another gender (please do not point this out or mention it to other students). HomerConnect pulls information listed in the chosen name field as opposed to pulling information from the legal name field for class rosters. Making this simple change before publicly reading the roster or program attendance list will avoid inadvertently embarrassing the student or disclosing their personal information to others. 
  2. Class rosters have a student’s legal first name unless the student has designated their chosen first name with the Registrar's office using the online chosen/preferred name change form available at https://www.ithaca.edu/academics/registrar/forms/student-forms  Pronouns are not included on rosters, and we encourage you to forego using pronouns and instead refer to all students by their chosen name until and unless they choose to share a pronoun. Students and faculty may also choose to include their pronouns in their Canvas account, using the Settings tab.
  3. Create a simple online form for students to fill out with their contact info including the name they go by and their pronouns so they can share them with you before the first class meeting. Or during your first class meeting ask all students to complete index cards with contact information, the name they use/like to be called, and answers to a few other questions. You may also invite all students to write their pronouns, too. You may need to explain/give examples. (e.g., my pronouns are 'she' and 'her'; my pronouns are ‘they/them’.) Not every student will opt to share their pronouns. 
  4. If you do class introductions, invite students to use the name they wish to be called, even if it is different from what is on the roster.  
  5. Use inclusive language. For instance, use the words students/scholars/athletes when referring to groups of students, use their name or they/them pronouns to refer to people when their pronouns are not known to you. 
  6. Call on students and colleagues using a description rather than a gender, for instance instead of saying "the gentleman in back," or "the woman in the front," say things like "the student in the purple sweater in the back row," “the student with their hand raised,” “the person wearing a NY Mets jersey,” etc. 
  7. Display your pronouns during Zoom meetings. Right click on your name, select "Rename," type your pronouns in after your name e.g. Luca Maurer (he/him), and click "OK." 
  8. Be aware of IC resources. For instance, the LGBTQ Center provides consultation, resources, support, and referral. Director Luca Maurer provides consultation to faculty and staff seeking more information, and connects students to the policies, programs, and services on our campus that support them. Visit ithaca.edu.lgbt or contact Lmaurer@ithaca.edu607-274-7394 
  9. Put a Title IX paragraph on the syllabus or orientation/contact materials you provide to your students. “Title IX is a federal act mandating that educational institutions receiving federal funding must provide sex and gender equity. All students have the right to a campus atmosphere free of sexual harassment, sexual violence, and gender discrimination. To make a report of sexual assault, sexual harassment or gender discrimination, please contact Linda Koenig, Title IX Coordinator; lkoenig@ithaca.edu 607-274-7761. Please visit www.ithaca.edu/share for more information.” 
  10. Consider adding information about where to seek help and make a report if someone experiences bias.  “Ithaca College strives to create an educational environment that is free from discrimination.  If you experience discrimination or bias or know someone who has, consider finding support by going to https://www.ithaca.edu/diversity-and-inclusion/find-support”.  
  11. Ask your colleagues how they would like to be addressed.  And remember there are resources for faculty and staff who experience bias. Become familiar with www.ithaca.edu/diversity to learn more. IC employees may designate their lived/chosen name via the IC HR Cloud. 

Contributing to an Inclusive and Equitable Environment

  • Listen to Your Students' Requests
    • A student may approach you before class starts or may send an email, asking you to note that they use a different name than what appears on the roster or program attendance list, and/or personal pronouns (they/them, she/her/, he/him or another set of pronouns) different than what might be assumed.  www.mypronouns.org/ is an excellent resource on the different types of personal pronouns people use and why this matters.   
  • Understand that students, staff and faculty have experienced disrespect and bias.
  • One of the most frequent ways students and colleagues encounter disrespect and frustration is due to others not respecting their lived/chosen name (the name they go by) or their gender in their lives and academic careers before becoming a community member. One effort Ithaca College made to prevent some of this frustration and its impacts was to implement a Personal Information Policy.
  • Know the Research and Impacts of Respecting Gender
    • Research demonstrates the significant protective health impacts of using chosen names and the pronouns individuals determine for themselves.
    • In 2021, New York State passed into law the Gender Recognition Act. This law allows New Yorkers to use "X" as a non-binary gender marker designation on New York State driver's licenses, non-driver state IDs, and birth certificates. The law also ensures that New Yorkers will be able to have their correct gender marker on official documents and provides additional protections to reduce discrimination against nonbinary and transgender New Yorkers. This law in combination with our efforts to recognize chosen names and pronouns will increase the safety of our students and promote a healthier learning environment. 

Each individual's chosen name and pronouns should be respected at all times in our community (classrooms, workspaces, residence halls, events, Zoom meetings, etc.).

See the Intercom story Pronouns, Gender and Names for additional information about the role that each one of us - students, faculty and staff - play in maintaining an environment that models equity and dignity, is conducive to our institutional values, and keeps us all in compliance with state and federal laws.