Avoid erasing women and nonbinary people from everyday conversations

We can avoid erasing women and nonbinary people from everyday conversations by using gender-neutral descriptions. Some examples include:

  • Folks, folx, or everybody instead of guys or ladies/gentleman
  • Humankind instead of mankind
  • People instead of man/men
  • Members of Congress instead of congressmen
  • Councilperson instead of councilman/councilwoman
  • First-year student instead of freshman
  • Machine-made, synthetic, or artificial instead of man-made
  • Parent or pibling instead of mother/father
  • Child instead of son/daughter
  • Kiddo instead of boy/girl
  • Sibling instead of sister/brother
  • Nibling instead of niece/nephew
  • Partner, significant other, or spouse instead of girlfriend/boyfriend or wife/husband
  • Flight attendant instead of steward/stewardess
  • Salesperson or sales representative instead of salesman/saleswoman
  • Server instead of waiter/waitress
  • Firefighter instead of fireman

–Lydia Ortiz, “How to Use Gender-Neutral Words (and why they’re important)”

Names and pronouns

from Brielle Harbin, “Teaching Beyond the Gender Binary in the University Classroom,” (Vanderbilt University, Centre for Teaching)

Some useful gender affirming practices:

  • Only call roll or read the class roster aloud after providing students with an opportunity to share their requested name and pronouns, and what they care to disclose to the class.
  • Allow students to self-identify the name and pronouns they prefer.
  • Set a tone of respect the first day of class as part of the course expectations and connect this discussion with honoring one another’s requested names and pronouns.
  • Acknowledge when you’ve made a mistake about someone’s pronoun and correct yourself.
  • Honor students’ requested names in all university settings including (but not limited to): office hours, classroom, student group meetings, or when speaking with other faculty or staff.
  • Politely provide a correction whether the person who was misgendered is present or not.
  • Do not ask personal questions of gender non-conforming people that you would not ask of others. Such questions include inquiries about a gender non-conforming person’s body, medical care, former name, why or how they knew they were gender non-conforming, their sexual orientation or practices, their family’s reaction to their gender identity, or any other questions that are irrelevant to the classroom context unless the student explicitly invites these questions or voluntarily offers this information.
  • Do not disclose students’ gender identity unless you have obtained their consent.