Communication Best Practices

Best practices for trans* and gender-variant inclusive language in written and in-person communication.

Individual/Group Communication (email, letter, invitation, agenda, etc.)

Avoid Best Practice
Binary gender honorifics, such as ‘Mr.’ or ‘Ms.’
  • Use an inclusive honorific, such as ‘Mx.’
  • Use no honorifics
  • Ask which honorifics people use before writing
Binary pronouns, such as ‘he’ or ‘she’
  • Use plural pronouns (e.g. they/them/their)
  • Use ‘student’ or ‘colleague’ or ‘professor’
  • Ask which pronouns people use before writing
Binary nouns, such as ‘son’ or ‘daughter’
  • Use ‘student’ or ‘colleague’ or ‘professor’
Using given name in salutation (e.g. Dear _____ )
  • Use campus name or working name (if you have permission to do so)
  • Use no name in salutation
Using old mail merge lists or PeopleSoft query results
  • Update mail merge lists every time you use them
  • Run new queries every time you need the data

In-person events (name tag, program bios, etc.)

Avoid Best Practice
Using binary gender honorifics
  • Use an inclusive honorific, such as ‘Mx.’
  • Use no honorifics
  • Ask which honorifics people use before printing
Binary pronouns, such as ‘he’ or ‘she’
  • Use plural pronouns (e.g. they/them/their)
  • Use ‘student’ or ‘colleague’ or ‘professor’
  • Ask which pronouns people use before printing
Using given names on pre-printed name tags
  • Use campus name or working name (if you have permission to do so)
  • Provide blank name tags and let attendees choose how they are represented
  • Bonus: provide a space on the name tag for attendees to indicate pronouns
Using old mail merge lists or PeopleSoft query results to create name tags
  • Update mail merge lists every time you use them
  • Run new queries every time you need the data

Web content

Avoid Best Practice
Binary gender honorifics, such as ‘Mr.’ or ‘Ms.’
  • Use an inclusive honorific, such as ‘Mx.’
  • Use no honorifics
  • Ask which honorifics people use before writing
Binary pronouns, such as ‘he’ or ‘she’
  • Use plural pronouns (e.g. they/them/their)
  • Use ‘student’ or ‘colleague’ or ‘professor’
  • Ask which pronouns people use before writing
Binary nouns, such as ‘son’ or ‘daughter’
  • Use ‘student’ or ‘colleague’ or ‘professor’

Informal events/meetings

Best Practice
  • If no nametags are provided, allot time for people to share pronouns, if they feel comfortable doing so
  • Make a habit of sharing your pronouns when you introduce yourself

In-person discussions

Avoid Best Practice
Assuming a person’s gender based on their name or presentation
  • Use plural pronouns and gender-neutral honorifics
    OR
  • Use no honorifics and use the person’s name until you until you know what pronouns they use
Letting someone be misgendered (e.g. incorrect pronouns) if they are not present and are the subject of discussion
  • Correct the person doing the misgendering
Correcting someone who is being misgendered if they are present
  • Let the person decide if they want to correct the error
    AND/OR
  • Correct the person doing the misgendering later

Remember

  • It’s not only students, faculty, and staff who may be trans*/gender-variant, but also family, parents, prospective students, spouses, or speakers visiting campus. If you have the opportunity, be sure to ask someone how they would like to be referred to in correspondence, introductions, or advertisements. If you don’t have the opportunity, be gender-neutral.
  • Not everyone is ‘out’ in every environment or situation. If someone, especially a student, uses a name other than their given name, be sure to ask them for their permission to use this name when communicating with others about them.