Sharing Our Gender Pronouns

Gender PronounBy Sylvia Tang, Community Health Planner
By Siavash Zohoori, Storytelling Program Specialist
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. On a daily basis, many of our clients/consumers, family members and community members feel invalidated and disrespected by individuals and institutions because they were not correctly addressed with their 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.

What can you do?

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 (see image).

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.

Here is a video showing you the ins and outs of sharing and asking for pronouns. When including your pronouns on your email signature, you can link this video to promote awareness!

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

Sample Email Signature with gender pronouns:

Sylvia Tang, MPP
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Community Health Planner
Co-Chair, Chinese Health Initiative
Co-Chair, Suicide Prevention Committee