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Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly are the changes that are being implemented?

During Phase 1 of this rollout, we are adding options for pronouns and the "X" sex marker to our HR system. Future rollouts will include preferred names, gender identities, and sexual orientation. These fields will be optional, self-service fields for employees to fill in if they choose.

What does sex marker indicate and what sex markers are in HR Direct?

Sex indicates a person's biological description that reflects their legal gender marker that is on their official documents such as their driver's licenses, birth certificates or other legal identification documents. 

The sex markers in HR Direct are Female, Male, Unknown, and X.

What is a pronoun and what does it indicate? What pronouns can I select in HR Direct?

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 non-binary pronouns are not gender specific and are often used by people who identify outside of a gender binary. The most common set of non-binary 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 non-binary 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).

Pronouns indicate how a person wants to be referred to.

Employees can select the following pronouns in HR Direct; He/him, he/she (he/him & she/her), he/they (he/him & they/them), he/ze (he/him & ze/hir), she/her, she/they (she/her & they/them), she/ze (she/her & ze/hir), they/them, they/ze (they/them & ze/hir), and ze/hir.

How can I update my sex marker and pronouns in HR Direct?

Please take the following steps in HR Direct to update your sexual marker value and pronoun value in HR Direct:

  1. Log in to HR Direct
  2. Access Employee Self Service
  3. Click on Personal Details tile*
  4. Select the new Sex / Pronouns tile
  5. Select a Sex marker value and / or a Pronoun value from drop down menu lists provided and click Save

*Some employees may see two tiles labeled "Personal Details." You may select either tile.

You may also update your pronouns and profile card in Microsoft 365 via Teams application as follows:

  1. Access the IT information page to Update Name and Pronoun (click here) for more detailed information
  2. Scroll down on the page for how to Update Name and Pronoun information

Please note, the current option to add Pronouns to your email is by adding it to your Outlook Signatures. 

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 a respectful, safe, and inclusive campus for all members of the community, UMass Chan is working to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to indicate their pronouns and have their pronouns respected.

If I change my pronouns and sex in HR Direct, will it affect my health insurance?

Articulating your pronouns or changing your pronouns will not be reported to any of our benefit providers.

A weekly report of any known changes in HR Direct is sent to the Group Insurance Commission (GIC). This report will inform your insurance carrier if there is a change in the sex identity field. If you select the “X” or “Unknown” marker for sex in HR Direct, then the GIC should reach out to you to request a “binary” response after having been informed of the change. This is because all of the GIC insurance carriers, at this time, are only able to collect “male” or “female” sex markers in their data systems.

Some vendor forms say “sex” and others say “gender.” How should I respond?

Sex and gender are often conflated in data collection, despite referring to two different things (sex refers to biological characteristics and gender refers to one’s internal sense of self). Many vendors have not yet updated their data processes; however, all are aware of this issue. You will find only binary gender options are requested on your Guardian Vision, Guardian Short-Term Disability, Cigna Dental and State Retirement Board forms. Please use the binary option you are most comfortable with. If you choose to leave this field blank on any of your forms, as it does not reflect your identity, you should receive a call from your benefits provider asking you to select one or the other. 

Where will pronouns appear?

Selecting pronouns is an employee self-service tool in the HR Direct platform. At this time, pronouns will appear in your Personal Details file in HR Direct. For the future Project phases, pronouns may appear in employee database reports or lists, rosters and more.

What benefits does UMass Chan provide for transgender and nonbinary employees?

All of our vendors provide services to transgender and nonbinary employees. As plans and benefits change year-to-year, we cannot guarantee specific benefits from any of our vendors. We encourage you to reach out to the vendors directly for guidance on coverage for your unique health needs.

Healthcare plan provider contact information can be found in your Benefits At-A-
Glance e-Brochure
and the Benefit Summaries section on the UMass Chan Benefits website.

What if I mistakenly use the wrong pronouns for someone?

The best thing to do if you realize you just used the wrong pronoun for someone in a conversation with them is to say something right away, such as “Sorry, I meant they.” Fix it, but do not call special attention to the error. If you realize your mistake after the fact, apologize to the person at your next opportunity. Please do not go on and on to the misgendered person about how bad you feel that you made that mistake or how hard it is for you to get it right.

If my legal name changes, what should I share with UMass Chan and why?

Legal names are required to be utilized for various forms, including but not limited to W-2 and I-9 forms. If you change your legal name for any reason, please reach out to with a completed  Employee Record Change Form and set up a time to show your social security card indicating a new first, middle, and/or last name. HR will update your I-9 and our data management systems. That change will also be shared with your benefits providers.

We recognize that many people go by names that are not their legal name. There are options available to you: