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Practicing Cultural Humility
Sharing Our Gender Pronouns

Article Sylvia Tang, Community Health Planner

Since February 2017, Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) staff have added gender pronouns to our e-mail signatures and started introducing ourselves in meetings with our gender pronouns.

Why is this important?

It is important for us to share our pronouns because we cannot know someone’s pronoun just by knowing their sex or the way a person looks or sounds.  And accurately using a person’s pronoun is a basic way to validate and respect one’s gender identity. 

While I am usually addressed by my correct pronouns (she/her/hers), I know many transgender and gender non-conforming individuals do not have that same privilege. Many of our clients, family members and community members feel invalidated and disrespected on a daily basis because the individuals and institutions in their lives do not address them with their preferred gender pronoun. This is especially concerning since sexual minorities are more likely to have substance use and mental health issues compared to sexual majority counterparts, according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

How can you make a difference?

Whether you are a working professional, student or community member, you can add your pronoun in your e-mail signature or add your pronouns to your name tags. Whether you are privileged like me, or marginalized for your gender identity, let’s together educate San Mateo County residents on the importance of sharing our pronouns.  

You can educate yourself about gender pronouns by visiting the University of Wisconsin LGBTQ Resource Center Website where the following (and more) questions will be answered:

  1. What are gender pronouns?
  2. How do I ask someone what pronouns they use?
  3. What if I make a mistake?

To learn more about ODE and our work in practicing cultural humility and advancing health equity, visit