Inclusive language helps

Kat Hand
Member of the GLBTI Restricted Committee

In order to maintain positive relationships with students identifying as transgender or gender questioning ask them which pronoun, if any, they would prefer people to use when speaking to or about them.

Some transgender or gender questioning young people may prefer you to use no gendered pronoun at all and simply use their first name only when referring to them, for example: “Ben went to pick up Ben’s new bike from the shop.”

Some students may wish to not identify as any binary gender and want you to refer to them as “they”. This can be easily done even in reports using a combination of the student’s first name and “they/their”. For example: “Max is doing very well in History. The assessment task on World War 1 was well crafted and creatively presented. Max needs to improve their study techniques to improve examination results.”

It is disappointing that while Australian federal departments and agencies are moving to more inclusive practices, the Department of Education and Communities has stalled on including transgender/intersex/gender questioning students on enrolment forms and in ERN until state legislation requires a change to be made.

In the meantime, the use of inclusive language in the school community can have a dramatic and positive effect on the lives of these young people.