Gender Diversity on Campus
Transgender students, staff and faculty often have specific questions about gender diversity on campus, some of which are addressed below.
Is Smith still a women’s college?
In its mission and legal status, Smith is a women’s college. Smith is also a place where students are able to explore who they are in an open and respectful environment.
Does Smith have transgender students?
Absolutely. Smith has students, faculty and staff who are trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming. Smith students are here to engage with each other socially and academically in respectful ways, and our community values the range of identities that the student body represents.
How are transgender students supported at Smith?
Smith is actively working to expand support for transgender students. Some of the resources currently available include:
The Resource Center for Sexuality and Gender
- The RCSG has a student staff position who maintains the space and holds open hours for peer support
- Each Spring, the RCSG, Lazarus Center for Career Development, and Alumnae Relations cohost an online panel of trans and nonbinary Smith alums focused on career options and navigating the workplace as a trans and/or nonbinary person
The Office for Equity & Inclusion
- The OEI has a Trans/Nonbinary Working Group; contact the group at email@example.com
- Raven Fowlkes-Witten and Toby Davis serve as OEI point people for trans and nonbinary students, which means they are available for individual support and also advocate for policy and infrastructure change
- OEI offers both synchronous and asynchronous trainings to the Smith community on trans inclusion
The Schacht Center for Health & Wellness
- The Schacht Center provides trans-affirming primary care, including hormone therapy
- They have a point person who can help students and their families navigate insurance coverage
- The Wellness Office—which serves as a resource for trans students—has a binder library, where students can try on binders to find the right size and style before buying
- Counseling Services runs a Transgender Support Group
- Every single-occupancy restroom on campus is designated all-gender, and more and more multi-stall bathrooms are as well (such as in the new Neilson)
- An all-gender locker room in the athletic facilities, with private showering and changing areas
- All student leaders (HCAs, HPs, OSE staff, SAAs, HONS, etc.) attend an annual training on trans inclusion
- Students can apply to the emergency medical fund for copays, deductibles and other non-insurance covered trans-related health care, including binders
- There is a student organization, Trans and Nonbinary Alliance of Smith College, whose membership includes trans men, trans women, transmasc and transfemme people and nonbinary people. They offer peer-to-peer support and also run a lot of social and educational programming. Check them out on Instagram.
- Campus-wide programming features a range of high profile trans and nonbinary guest speakers and performers. In past years we’ve seen such figures as Alok Vaid-Menon, Janet Mock, Laverne Cox, Eli Clare and others
- You can update your pronouns and enter a chosen name in Workday. The name you use in Workday will automatically appear on or in the following:
- Smith Google account name (the full name that displays when emailing someone, for example, or on a calendar). This is accessible to people outside of Smith with whom you communicate via your Smith email.
- Online Smith Campus Directory, which is accessible to people outside of Smith.
- Moodle, which is accessible to Smith and Five College students in the same course.
How do recent federal actions affect transgender students, staff and faculty?
The October 2017 reversal of federal protections for gender identity under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in no way affects Massachusetts law or Smith’s commitments to protecting its transgender and nonbinary employees and students from discrimination and harassment. The college stands by and affirms all aspects of its Notice of Nondiscrimination, and Smith will continue to consider any instance of gender-identity-based discrimination as a violation of our policies and principles.
Who is eligible to apply to Smith?
People who identify as women—cis, trans and nonbinary women—are eligible to apply to Smith.
What is required of trans and nonbinary women applicants to be considered for admission?
Smith’s policy is one of self-identification. The applicant’s affirmation of identity is sufficient.
Changing Your Name
Faculty, staff, and students who go by something other than their legal name can update their first name in Workday. In addition, they can upload documentation to initiate a legal name change. The name you use in Workday will automatically appear on or in the following:
Smith Google account name (the full name that displays when emailing someone, for example, or on a calendar). This is accessible to people outside of Smith with whom you communicate via your Smith email.
Online Smith Campus Directory, which is accessible to people outside of Smith.
Moodle, which is accessible to Smith and Five College students in the same course.
It may take up to 24 hours for your name change to appear in these systems. For detailed instructions on how to update your name, search “name” in Workday, then select the appropriate help article.
Members of the Smith community can also add their pronouns in Workday for other Smith students and employees to view. At this time, your pronouns will not appear in other Smith systems, such as Moodle or the Smith directory. Pronouns added in Workday will appear on course rosters for undergraduate and graduate/SSW graduate students. Search “pronoun” in Workday for instructions.
Students, faculty and staff who wish to change their Smith network username and email address may write the IT Service Center at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
To update the name on your OneCard, begin by updating your name in Workday. After one business day, email email@example.com to schedule an appointment to get the new card. At your appointment, the staff at the ITSC (Stoddard Hall 204) will ask for your current OneCard. They will dispose of that card and give you the new one. There is no charge for exchanging your OneCard to update the name listed.
A pronoun is a part of speech that takes the place of a noun; it is used to refer to someone or oneself, like “I,” “you, “she,” “he” or “they.” When we are talking about gendered language in a U.S. context, we most commonly are referring to third-person singular pronouns, which are gendered in English.
What are some common pronouns and how are they used?
Commonly used third-person singular pronouns are listed below. Please note that this is by no means an exhaustive list. New pronouns are coming into use all the time.
The college respects individual choice in this matter and does not endorse any particular pronoun use in personal communication or informal writing.
|She/Her/Hers||Sophia lives in Sessions House.
She is a proud Smithie.
You can find her at the CC.
Her major is engineering.
That laptop is hers.
|He/Him/His||Sophia lives in Sessions House.
He is a proud Smithie.
You can find him at the CC.
His major is engineering.
That laptop is his.
|They/Them/Theirs||Sophia lives in Sessions House.
They are a proud Smithie.
You can find them at the CC.
Their major is engineering.
That laptop is theirs.
|Ze/zir/zirs||Sophia lives in Sessions House.
Ze is a proud Smithie.
You can find zir at the CC.
Zir major is engineering.
That laptop is zirs.
|Ze/hir/hirs||Sophia lives in Sessions House.
Ze is a proud Smithie.
You can find hir at the CC.
Hir major is engineering.
That laptop is hirs.
|Xe/xir/xirs||Sophia lives in Sessions House.
Xe is a proud Smithie.
You can find xir at the CC.
Xir major is engineering.
That laptop is xirs.
|E/em/eirs||Sophia lives in Sessions House.
E is a proud Smithie.
You can find em at the CC.
Eir major is engineering.
That laptop is eirs.
|Sie/sir/hirs||Sophia lives in Sessions House.
Sie is a proud Smithie.
You can find sie at the CC.
Sir major is engineering.
That laptop is hirs.
|No pronouns||Sophia lives in Sessions House.
Sophia is a proud Smithie.
You can find Sophia at the CC.
Sophia’s major is engineering.
That laptop is Sophia’s.
For more information, please watch this video.
What if I don’t know what pronoun someone uses?
Making assumptions about pronouns based on what a person looks like may lead to you to misgender them. When you don’t know what pronoun someone uses, ask yourself first if you need to know. If it’s a casual face-to-face conversation, or even a meeting, you can probably just refer to the person directly using their name and the pronoun “you,” as in, “Like Toby was saying before,” or “I have a question for you, Toby.”
For a person you plan to interact with more deeply or over a longer period, the best way to learn what pronouns someone uses is to ask. Keep it simple and just say, “Can I ask you what pronouns you use?” or “I use he/him pronouns, how about you?” It might feel awkward, but people who use pronouns that differ from those that people expect will probably really appreciate your efforts.
We are working to assess how we can make this set of pronouns available in our campus technology systems, with our initial focus being on Workday and Banner.
What do pronouns tell you about a person?
Pronouns get a lot of attention and they’re important, but remember that learning what pronouns a person uses tells you . . . what pronouns that person uses. That’s it. There are people who use they/them pronouns but also identify as male or as female. There are people coming into trans identities who have not changed their pronouns. And there are individuals who use the pronouns they were assigned at birth, but nevertheless have a very complex relationship with their gender.
What if someone uses more than one pronoun? How about “no pronoun”?
When you ask someone what pronouns they use, you might hear something like, “I use she/her or they/them.” You may wonder whether the person really identifies with one over the other, but if that’s all the information you have, then take them at their word that they are comfortable with either and use whichever one you like. You can even try alternating between them. The same goes with people who tell you they don’t care what pronoun you use for them.
If someone uses “no pronoun,” then use their name each time you would use a pronoun (e.g., “Jen has two dinosaur tattoos because Jen really loves dinosaurs.”)
How do you use “they/them” as a singular pronoun?
Some people have objected to the use of “they/them” as a singular pronoun because it is “confusing” or against the rules of grammar. (Not so—grammar rules eventually adapt to the way people use language, plus singular they/them has been used as far back as 1375!). Because they/them is also a plural pronoun, it’s true that using the singular version can create some minor confusions. But that’s a small price to pay for the tremendous benefit the rise of they/them pronouns has created for many, many people who now feel more comfortable having a widely used alternative to English’s binary gendered pronouns.
We’ve all used singular they/them pronouns already, in situations where we speak about one person of an unknown gender: “Someone left their umbrella behind in the classroom. I hope they don’t get soaked!” The same grammatical rules apply—just use “they” where you’d use “she” or “he,” and use a plural verb “are” (instead of “is/am,”) even for a single person (say “they are going to campus” rather than “they is going to campus”). This plural verb rule is similar to that employed by the singular “you”—one would say “you are,” not “you is.”
What if I use the wrong pronoun for someone?
Follow these simple steps:
- Acknowledge it. (Don’t let it slide)
- Move on.
- Don’t make it about you.
Being called the wrong pronoun can be a painful experience, so treat it like you would any other accidental hurt you might cause, like stepping on someone’s foot. It’s also something most trans people are acutely aware of, so even if the person you mispronounced is not responding, it’s best to assume that they and others around have noticed.
Here’s a good example: “I’d like to introduce you to my friend Sophia. She—I’m sorry, I meant he—is new to campus.”
Sometimes you don’t notice it until later, or until it is pointed out to you. Again, apologize and correct yourself, but don’t linger in your own feelings of guilt or shame. Excessive apologies can put the burden on the person you harmed to try to make you feel better, which is not their job.
How should I invite people to share pronouns in a group?
When trying to create an inclusive group setting, it’s important to honor how people want to be addressed, which includes using chosen names and correct pronouns for everyone. However, it can also be othering and intimidating for some people to be put on the spot by being asked to share their pronouns right at the beginning with a new group. Here are some guidelines:
- Explain why you are asking
- Lead by example
- Always offer people the option to pass
- Remember that pronouns can change, so ask every few weeks
- Have people write pronouns on their nametags or table cards
- Be prepared to intervene if someone uses the wrong pronoun for someone else—don’t let it slide
Why should I share my pronouns if I am not transgender? Aren’t they obvious?
As mentioned earlier, there is no way to tell by looking what pronoun someone uses, so one reason to share your pronouns if you are cisgender (not transgender) is to clearly communicate to others how you would like to be referred to. Going deeper, sharing your pronouns is an important act of solidarity and allyship. By sharing your own pronouns, you are opening space for others to share theirs and normalizing the process so that the burden is not on trans people to advocate for pronoun inclusion.
Who should I contact if I have further questions?
You can contact the Trans and Non-binary working group at firstname.lastname@example.org.