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PLEASE NOTE: Creating an inclusive and equitable classroom is a process that should take place throughout the year. This activity is best suited to the start of the year and introducing it in the middle of the year may be harmful by pressuring trans students to out themselves. If pronouns are new to your class, the activity Erin's Adventure (include link) is a better place to start.
Creating a safe space for trans and non-binary students is something that should happen from the first day of class. A pronoun go around as part of class introductions can help create this space. Making space for students to speak for themselves gives them agency. This avoids using the wrong name for trans students who have not changed or been able to change their official documentation and gives all students a chance to share their preferred name.
Arrange students in a circle. Model an introduction for students that includes pronouns (see prompts below). Be sure to mention that people often change how they would like to be addressed. A person who has attained a new qualification or position (e.g. academic degree, political office) may wish to be addressed in a certain way in certain situations (Doctor, Honourable, Professor, etc.). People may also decide they’d like to be addressed with different pronouns (they, zie, he, she). It is also important to speak about transphobia. Some cisgender students may feel uncomfortable with sharing pronouns because it is a new practice to them. However, it is important that they understand that sharing their pronouns and especially not making assumptions about other people’s pronouns is an important part of being an ally to trans and non-binary people. After you have covered the above topics, give the students the opportunity to share their names and pronouns.
Prompt: “My name is [teacher name] and my pronouns are ____ and ____.”
E.g. “I’m Omoye and my pronouns are zie, and hir.”
“My name is Martin and my pronouns are they and them.”
“I’m Vivek and I use she, her pronouns.”
“My name is Mx Mohamed and I use he, him pronouns.”
It is important that trans and non-binary people and their experiences are included in the curriculum throughout the whole year. This study guide contains additional resources for doing so, including a guide to inclusive pronouns. As a teacher you have the opportunity to act as an ally to trans and non-binary students in your class. Including this information sheet in your start of year activities can give you the opportunity to offer support to trans and non-binary students.