Pronouns are now editable in Identity.UW.
Pronouns are now available in your MyUW profile and in MyUW Class Lists.
On This Page
- Data definition– definition, categorization, classification
- Data integration– data format, integration, storage, retention, and vendors
- Guidance and feedback – providing help and support to your services and users
Note: If you are looking for information about the appropriate collection and use of UW pronouns, please refer to the UW Privacy Office webpage on Support for Specific Data.
Pronoun data is defined as any record that identifies a person and includes their choice of pronouns collected from Identity.UW for the purpose of self-identification and expression of pronouns for use by the UW community.
System of Record
What is the system of record for pronoun data?
UW-IT’s Identity Registry is the system of record for the pronoun data. Identity.UW integrates with the Identity Registry to store and retrieve current data values. Identity Registry holds the official data records and can be relied on to resolve downstream data discrepancies.
Purpose specification and intended uses
The Data Governance Committees and Privacy Steering Committee have approved the collection, distribution, and use of pronoun data from Identity.UW for the purpose of self identity, with intended use by UW faculty, support staff, and academic personnel to provide a more welcoming and inclusive environment to the individuals they support.
Individuals who indicate their pronouns on Identity.UW are informed the data is intended for these purposes and for sharing with these audiences (UW academic personnel, faculty, and support staff). Individuals who use different pronouns with different people, and therefore might desire more control over the sharing of their pronoun data, can use “ask me” or similar pronoun data, or they can leave their pronouns blank on Identity.UW. These individuals can use alternative means to share their pronouns with different audiences, more privately, on their own terms and timeframes.
Who are the users of pronoun data?
The direct users of pronoun data are people who indicate their pronouns on Identity.UW, as well as people who interact with downstream systems that present pronoun data directly to them (only UW academic personnel, faculty, and support staff). Indirect users include those involved in a context of use (often verbal or written) where the original person is referred to by their pronouns. For example, a student might indicate pronouns on Identity.UW, then their instructor might obtain the pronouns from MyUW class lists, and then the instructor might refer to the student using their pronouns in a conversation with that student.
How does pronoun data relate to other identity or person data such as preferred name?
Although pronoun data collected from Identity.UW is in the same general category as other self-identification data such as preferred name, its specified purpose and intended uses are different. Therefore, pronoun data shouldn’t be used to assume gender identity, sex assigned at birth, or salutations. Likewise, someone’s name shouldn’t be used to assume their pronouns. These data elements serve unique and different purposes.
What is the classification for the pronoun data?
The pronoun data collected through Identity.UW is generally classified as Restricted information because, though distributed for use throughout the UW community, the data is critical to operations and may impact an individual’s safety and wellbeing. Therefore, this data warrants careful management to safeguard integrity and promote safe and appropriate use within the UW community.
Note: “classify” is the term used to refer to the data classification process defined by the UW Privacy Office. It relates to the sensitivity of data.
Does the classification apply to all data sets that include pronouns?
No, data classification is a practice applied to data sets based on their unique composition of data elements, purpose specification, etc. The Restricted classification is only a starting point for the classification of actual data sets that combine pronoun data from Identity.UW with other data elements. For example, data sets that include the pronoun data and have been anonymized or de-identified might have a Public classification, whereas data sets that combine pronoun data with more sensitive personal data must be classified according to the whole data set and may require a Confidential classification.
Can I integrate pronouns into my system?
If your system provides pronouns ONLY to UW academic personnel, faculty, and/or support staff so that they can provide a more welcoming and inclusive experience for the individuals who choose to share their pronouns, then you may integrate pronouns in your system.
If your system would share a user’s pronouns any more broadly, you should not integrate UW pronouns into your system. Even though it might seem like a good idea, sharing this information carries risk of real harm to our vulnerable community members and must be avoided.
Before you proceed with using or collecting pronoun data, please refer to the UW Privacy Office’s guidance on appropriate collection and use of pronoun data.
How do I integrate pronouns into my system?
Pronoun data is available from UW-IT Enterprise Web Services and Events, which provides application programming interfaces (APIs) for integrating person data, including pronouns. If you integrate data from other IT services or data sources, ask your data provider if they plan to integrate and provide pronoun data from Identity.UW.
Important: UW pronoun data is only intended for use by UW academic personnel, faculty, and/or support staff in order to provide a more welcoming and inclusive environment. This data is not to be made available to broader audiences or communities.
Do I need additional authorization to integrate pronouns?
It depends on where and how you obtain access. In general, pronoun data will be available in existing data sets that include data with similar purposes, such as preferred names and identifiers (like UW NetID) used throughout the UW community. Current customers with roles or authorizations to access these existing data sets will be able to access pronoun data without additional approvals. New customers must request access using standard data access request/approval processes.
How do we announce new integrations?
To promote transparency and awareness, significant integrations can be added under “Where to share your pronouns” on the Sharing Pronouns at the UW page, so that users are aware of the everyday uses of their pronouns. To request your system be added, email email@example.com with “pronouns implementation” in the subject.
What is the latency for pronoun updates from Identity.UW to my system?
Update latencies depend on how your system integrates pronoun data. Identity.UW saves individual choices in real-time to the Identity Registry, and updates are propagated in near real-time to Enterprise Web Services and Events. If you integrate data from some other data source, ask your data provider about update latencies for their integration and distribution of pronoun data from Identity.UW. You should aim for real-time or close to real-time updating of pronoun data.
How often should I update the data integrated into my system?
You should integrate pronoun data with update frequencies that result in successful pronoun use in your systems and with your users. Many systems will need to update the data at least daily in order to display current pronoun data to their users.
What policy should I apply to pronoun data integrated into my system?
Please consult the UW Privacy Office for information about the appropriate collection and use of pronoun data.
When someone’s pronoun data changes, should I retain the prior pronoun data?
No, systems should only integrate and use current pronoun data. Retaining prior pronoun data is not an approved business purpose for any integrations of pronoun data. Do not retain prior pronoun data.
What test data is available?
Several test identities can be used to test integrations and display of pronouns in applications. Test data are available from UW-IT Enterprise Web Services and Events, and are described further in the uw-iam-pronouns-test-data repository. If you are planning an SSO integration, email firstname.lastname@example.org with “pronouns implementation” in the Subject, and UW-IT can help test it.
Data Integration with Vendor Systems
Can I integrate pronouns into a third-party or vendor system?
If the third-party or vendor system provides pronouns: ONLY to UW academic personnel, faculty, and/or support staff so that they can provide a more welcoming and inclusive experience for the individuals who choose to share their pronouns, then you may integrate pronouns in the system. Of course, you may need a Data Processing Agreement before you share UW personal data with any third-party or vendor system.
If the system would share a user’s pronouns any more broadly, you should not integrate UW pronouns into your system. Even though it might seem like a good idea, sharing this information carries risk of real harm to our vulnerable community members and must be avoided.
What do I need to do before I integrate pronoun data into a system run by an external/third party?
Before integrating personal data into external/third party systems you need to confirm that the third party’s use of the data is consistent with the UW’s guidance on appropriate collection and use for pronoun data. Additionally, you may need a data processing agreement. Refer to the UW Privacy Office for more information on third-party data processing agreements.
Data format and values
Is the pronoun data structured or unstructured? Can algorithms rely on a consistent data structure for processing pronoun data?
The pronoun data is unstructured. The UW has made an intentional decision not to structure the pronoun data, and thereby manage and constrain data related to the evolving and often complex ways individuals express themselves through their pronouns. The data values are intended to be human-readable only.
What technical requirements (format, length) must be met in order to integrate and display pronoun data in my system?
Your system must be able to integrate free-form text and display it to your users. UW-IT data integration services will model and provide pronoun data to align with this free-form text requirement. Pronoun data is formatted as a string of up to 140 characters and can include printable 7-bit ASCII characters, except for pipe (|) and backslash (\).
What is the default pronoun data value?
The default data value is no pronoun data (empty string). People who haven’t indicated any pronouns or who have removed them will have no current pronoun data.
Can individuals indicate more than one pronoun?
Yes, Identity.UW allows individuals to indicate any pronouns, including more than one, and the system gives examples of common ways others format more than one pronoun (e.g. “she/they”).
Will the data format ever change?
The data format is unlikely to change in any substantial way. Any decisions to change the data format will be based on meeting the needs of the UW community and advancing the institutional goals mentioned above. In the unlikely event that significant changes need to be made to the data format, versioning and other change management practices will be used to reduce impacts and costs.
Displaying pronoun data
How should my system display pronoun data to users?
Display the pronoun data as you receive it, unchanged. Additional data processing is discouraged in order to preserve the integrity of what each person has expressed for pronouns. Keep in mind that pronoun data has a 140 character limit.
When possible, it would be helpful for you to provide your users a link to the Proper pronoun usage and expectations in the UW community page in the interface in which you are displaying pronouns.
Can I safely escape characters in my context of use (HTML, SQL, JSON, etc.)?
Systems that transmit or integrate pronoun data into specific contexts of use (HTML, SQL, JSON, etc.) should safely escape characters to preserve the original data values and manage information security risks.
If someone has no pronoun data, what should I display?
As with other data elements, system owners and their user experience designers can decide what to display within user interactions, screens, reports, and other contexts when someone hasn’t indicated pronouns through Identity.UW. Leaving the display field blank is one option. Whatever you decide to do, it is important not to make any assumptions about a user’s intent around why there are no pronouns indicated.
How should I refer to pronoun data in my system and related operations — are they “preferred pronouns” or “personal pronouns”?
You should refer to pronoun data as “Pronouns” without any qualifiers. For example, user interfaces, reports, and other tabular data sets can use “Pronouns” as a data field label or column heading. Please refrain from describing the data as someone’s “preferred” pronouns because it suggests their own self-identification or expression is a preference.
Is it okay to translate pronoun data into other languages?
Be careful with translations because pronominal systems differ across languages. While it may seem okay to translate someone’s everyday English pronouns into other languages, the intended meaning may not translate as well as you intend.
Where can I find guidance on pronouns for people who indicate them on Identity.UW?
You will find guidance and support on the Sharing pronouns at the UW page.
Where can I provide guidance on pronouns for people who view pronouns from Identity.UW in my system?
You can send your users for guidance and support to the Proper pronoun usage and expectations in the UW community page.
Who should I contact if pronouns aren’t being displayed in the services that I manage?
If a service doesn’t include pronouns and you think it should, contact the system owner or organization that provides the service. Ask if they plan to support pronouns. For other options, please contact email@example.com.
How do I report intentional misuse of pronouns and other offensive behavior?
Report intentional misuse and offensive behavior using the Title IX Reporting Options or the UW bias reporting tool. Intentional or malicious pronoun misuse and other offensive behavior is considered harassment and has no place in the UW community. People can apologize for and correct accidental misuse, but continued intentional misuse is offensive, should be reported, and may result in disciplinary action. Referring to people using the wrong pronouns, especially on purpose, is disrespectful and can lead to feelings of alienation, exclusion, and overall dysphoria. Please don’t hesitate to report these cases.