Updated: Jun 8
Using gender-inclusive language is important for the health and safety of both dance instructors and students. Gender-inclusive language supports people of all marginalized genders, including transgender men, transgender women, non-binary folk, and gender non-conforming folk.
Language is constantly changing, and we will need to adapt to new ways of talking and thinking to continue to support gender-inclusive communication. This guide may be updated to reflect respectful language as it changes.
The singular “they” is grammatically correct and should be used to refer to:
An unspecified person
A person whose pronouns are unknown, or
A person who uses they/them pronouns.
Example: Before a dancer enters the studio, they should check-in with the studio host to make sure they are accounted for.
Do not assume a person’s gender or pronouns. When communicating with or about instructors, students, or other dancers, do not address them as Sir, Ma’am, Mr., Ms., Miss, or any other language that assumes gender. Only use honorifics (Mr./Ms./Mx.) if the person has indicated their desired honorific. The gender-neutral honorific “Mx.” is pronounced mɪks (micks) or mʌks (mucks).
Omit unnecessary references to gender. Do not call attention to gender, gender expression, appearance, or other identities. For example, is it important to the context that a dancer is a woman, or that an instructor is transgender? If not, remove the language. When referencing in other languages, opt for gender inclusion. In Spanish, for example, many South American countries have adopted the “e” in place of “o” when referring to groups.
Example: Todes elles están interesades en diversidad e inclusión.
He or she, (s)he, s/he
Him or her
His or Her(s)
Men and women
Ex: “The men and women dancing in Studio 1...”
People, dancers, folks, etc.
Ex: “The people dancing in Studio 1…” “The folks..." "The dancers..."
Opposite gender, opposite sex
Different gender, different sex
"Hello, ladies and gentlemen" or "Hey guys"
Hello, everyone! Hello, all!
Husband or wife
Father or mother, sister or brother
Always use a person’s chosen name and pronouns. A person’s name and pronouns are not optional or “preferred,” and their correct name and pronouns must be used every time.
Use “gender” instead of “gender identity.” Saying that someone “identifies as a man” or that their “gender identity is non-binary” marks them as different and undermines their gender. Just say, “He is a man,” or “They are non-binary.”
Use “gender identity” only to specify or draw a distinction between gender identity and expression. Example: The student group recognizes diversity of both gender identity and gender expression.
Preferred name and pronouns
Name and pronouns, chosen* name and pronouns
*Use “chosen” only when distinguishing from deadname.
______ identifies as ______
Ex: Carl identifies as male.
______ is ______
Ex: Carl is a man.
People who identify as non-binary
Women and transgender women
Women, or transgender and cisgender women
Other Language to Avoid
This list is not comprehensive, and it is subject to change. Offensive language is listed here only for the purpose of education. It should not be used in any other context.
Offensive / Outdated Language
_____ is a transgender.
_____ is transgender.
Transgender is an adjective, not a noun.
Transman, transwoman, trans male, trans female
Man, woman, transgender man, transgender woman, trans man, trans woman (include space)
Sex reassignment surgery, sex change operation
Gender confirmation surgery
Biologically male / female, born a man / woman
Assigned male / female at birth It is very rarely appropriate to talk about a person’s sex.
Real name, birth name
Do not use a person’s deadname. Always refer to the person by their chosen name.
Discussing Masculine, Feminine, and Gender Neutral Energies
Movement is not gendered. Dance forms are not gendered. When we tell ourselves and others that certain movements or dance forms are more masculine or feminine, we then create a box around who can and cannot execute these movements.
Instead when describing execution or dance style, refer to masculine, feminine, and/or gender neutral energies, and recognize that no body is restricted to any energy and there is space for all energies in all movement.
To learn more about the topics discussed in this guide, please see the following resources:
City of Madison Gender-Inclusive Language Style Guide
Inclusive Language Content Guide
Transgender Style Guide
What Is the Singular They, and Why Should I Use It?
Learn more about how Rae Studios' More Than Movement creates safe and inclusive spaces at raestudios-sf.com/post/morethanmovement.