A cross functional group from HR offices, DEI departments and IT groups from each campus came together to create an HR Direct system that is more inclusive by providing options for sex and pronouns. The goal was for employees to be better able to identify themselves.


What is a pronoun? A pronoun is a word that is used instead of a noun or a noun phrase to refer to individuals. Pronouns can be in the first person singular (I, me) or plural (we, us); second person singular or plural (you); and the third person singular (e.g., she/ her, he/him, they/them, ze/hir) or plural (they/them). Gendered pronouns reference someone’s gender: he/him/his or she/her/hers. Non-gendered or nonbinary pronouns are not gender specific and are often used by people who identify outside of a gender binary. The most common set of nonbinary pronouns is they/them/their used to refer to a single person (e.g., Jadzia identifies as genderqueer; they do not see themselves as either female or male). Other nonbinary pronouns include ze (pronounced “zee”) in place of she/ he, and hir (pronounced “here”) or zir (pronounced “zer”) in place of his/him/her (e.g., Jadzia runs hir own business, but ze is more well-known as an author).

  • Why are pronouns important? As a society, we commonly assume the gender of others by their appearance and indicate these assumptions by using gendered language, such as she/he, ma’am/sir, Ms./Mr., and ladies/gentlemen. This practice results in many individuals, especially trans and gender-nonconforming individuals, being misgendered, which makes them feel marginalized and invisible. As an institution committed to the inclusion of historically underrepresented groups and ensuring respectful, safe, and inclusive campuses for all members of the community, UMass is working to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to indicate their pronouns and have their pronouns respected.
  • What is the best way to ask someone which pronouns they use? You can ask, “What pronouns do you use for yourself ?” or “What pronouns should I be using for you?” It is always better to be direct! It is essential to ask for pronouns because you cannot assume how someone identifies their gender based on appearance. Using the wrong pronouns for someone may lead them to feel disrespected, invalidated, and marginalized.

Available Pronoun Options in HR Direct

  • Any pronoun 
  • Choose not to disclose 
  • He/any (he/him or any pronoun) 
  • He/him 
  • He/she (he/him & she/her) 
  • He/they (he/him & they/them) 
  • He/xe (he/him & xe/xem) 
  • He/ze (he/him & ze/zir) 
  • Name only 
  • She/any (she/her or any pronoun) 
  • She/her 
  • She/they (she/her & they/them) 
  • She/xe (she/her & xe/xem) 
  • She/ze (she/her & ze/zir) 
  • They/any (they/them or any pronoun) 
  • They/them 
  • They/xe (they/them & xe/xem) 
  • They/ze (they/them & ze/zir) 
  • Xe/any (xe/xem or any pronoun) 
  • Xe/xem 
  • Xe/ze (xe/xem & ze/zir) 
  • Ze/any (ze/zir or any pronoun) 
  • Ze/zir 

"X" and "Legal Sex" Explanation

Legal sex refers to the sex marker on a person’s legal identification (i.e., their birth certificate, driver’s license, or state ID). Recognizing that sex is not a binary, nearly half of U.S. states, including Massachusetts, allow individuals to have an X on their birth certificates and/or driver’s licenses to indicate that they identify as a sex other than female or male.

Enabling UMass employees to have an X as their sex respects the diversity of our society and is in keeping with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts offering X as a legal sex on driver’s licenses.


Please note that if you are a GIC eligible employee, GIC still requires a binary sex and will contact you directly to obtain that if you indicate in HR Direct that your sex is not Male or Female.

Group Insurance Commission

Further Campus Information

There are various DEI initiatives at each campus. For more information on this or other DEI initiatives please reference your campus's DEI page below.