How to be more inclusive in 2020
A trend started up in 2019 where I noticed people adding their gender pronouns to their Instagram handle, name, and bio. I thought it was a cool new way to promote inclusivity, and I added my own to support the cause. I hadn’t actually done the research to understand where this had stemmed from exactly, or what other forms this could be taking place in.
When I noticed more people adding their gender pronouns to their email signatures, I finally took the time to understand why we were doing this at all. A little embarrassed that it took me this long to get it; I now have a grasp on the importance of this simple gesture.
As a white, *cis-gendered woman, I am acknowledging my privilege by adding my own pronouns “she/her/hers,” and supporting those who face discrimination when their gender may be assumed.
Who is this for?
Everyone. If you are a cis gendered person who includes their pronouns to their email signature, you are creating a safe space where you recognise that gender assumption is no longer a viable action. You do not need to identify within the LGBTQ+ community to take part in this inclusive move; you are simply recognising your privilege as someone who identifies as the gender that most people would guess that you are.
Gender pronouns are important because those who’s gender is assumed wrongly can feel discriminated against and isolated. If you are someone who does not have to worry about people assuming your gender incorrectly, you are experiencing privilege.
More specifically though, this benefits transgender and non binary people; as they face the most discrimination in regards to people understanding their gender identity in our society.
A transgender person is someone who’s gender identity is different than the gender that they were assigned at birth. If that person identifies as a woman, then they would use the gender pronouns “she/her/hers.” If they identify as a man, their gender pronouns would reversely be “he/him/his.”
Non binary is one of the more common terms used to describe someone who’s gender identity may blend that of a man and a woman. It may also be a person who identifies as being someone other than male or female, or be used more fluidly for someone who’s gender may change. Although many non binary people prefer to use the gender pronouns “they/them/theirs,” it is important to understand that some may wish to use “she/her/hers,” or “he/him/his.”
Keeping in mind that this is helpful towards everyone within the LGBTQ+ community, and those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, intersex, asexual, and two spirit are benefiting from a long fight towards inclusivity.
Examples of some versions from my own email signature:
Kaitlyn Morrison (she/her)
My pronouns are: she/her/hers
How to use gender pronouns in person
It’s important to understand that every situation is different when asking someone what pronouns they use, and can heavily lean towards safety and context. The LGBTQIA Resources guide informs us that some people may identify one way at work, but as something else when they are home; so it can be helpful to clarify in what situation you are regarding.
Some examples they provide when asking someone are:
“What pronouns do you use?”
“May I ask what pronouns you use?”
“When I refer to you, what pronouns should I use?”
When introducing ourselves in a work environment or group we can say things like:
“Hi my name is Kaitlyn and my pronouns are she/her/hers”
If we incorrectly use the wrong gender pronoun, we can simply apologise, and correct ourself by using the right pronoun. The LGBTQIA Resource centre reminds us that it is not up to the other person to make us feel better if we say the wrong pronoun, and that by overly apologising we can bring too much attention to an already awkward situation.
Apologise, correct yourself, and move on.
Three of the most commonly used gender pronouns
For the full list of gender pronouns provided by the LGBTQIA Resource Centre click here.
Moving forward we can create a more inclusive world for our own generation and the ones to come. It’s the CEO’s, the business owners, the founders, and the managers that hold a responsibility in setting an example for their employees and those they influence. It’s people who hold privilege, acknowledge the inequality that still exists in our culture today, and choose to do something about it. It’s this simple gesture of adding in your pronouns to your email, introducing yourself with your pronoun, and asking others what theirs are, that creates a ripple effect of awareness.
Will you add your own pronouns to your email signature today? Your business cards? What about when you introduce yourself to new people?
*cis gendered - someone who identifies by their assigned gender at birth