Universiteit Leiden

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He, she or they: how should the university refer to you?

Thursday 28 June 2018
Kamerlingh Onnes Building
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden

From gender-neutral forms of address to non-binary language use: the debate on more inclusive use of the Dutch language is enormous. How can we make sure that language does not lag behind society? How should lecturers address students in the lecture hall? What about official letters that the university sends to staff and students? Can gender-neutral forms of address such as they/them be used? .

The keynote speaker is Jojanneke van der Toorn, Professor by Special Appointment in LGBT workplace inclusion. She will address the importance of inclusion in the workplace, to which policies like genderinclusive language could possibly contribute. Transgender Network Netherlands has already put together the Gender Manual, in which they make suggestions for how organisations can avoid distinguishing between individuals on the basis of gender. During the panel discussion she will explain their choices.

Based on his expertise as a linguist, and specificlly a sociolinguist, Dick Smakman will discuss possible forms of address and referencing.

Eliza Steinbock is conducting research on the social embedding of binary gender norms and the stigmatisation of people who do not conform to these norms; they will reflect on these issues during the panel meeting. 

Caroline van Overbeeke, spokesperson for Leiden University, will address the perspective of the communication expert within the university.

Would you like to join in the discussion on this issue? If so, come along to the panel discussion. After the panel meeting, the discussions can continue over drinks. For catering purposes, please register for this event.





Welcome by Tim Vergeer, Dutch language specialist and PhD candidate in the Dutch language programme.


Keynote speech by Jojanneke van der Toorn, Professor of Workplace Inclusivity


Panel discussion with


  • Caroline van Overbeeke, university spokesperson and corporate communication adviser
  • Dick Smakman, University Lecturer
  • Eliza Steinbock, University Lecturer
  • Jojanneke van der Toorn, Professor by Special Appointment LGBT workplace inclusion
  • Transgender Network Netherlands




Register (free)

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