I’m cisgender, but I include pronouns in my email signature for one simple reason.
It normalizes discussions about gender. A conversation that benefits everyone.
But first and foremost it says to everyone, I won’t assume your gender.
I quickly saw the power in this change in my signature, which took all of a minute to do, when my good friend Grace received an email from me.
Moments later I got the Whatsapp:
‘YOU HAVE PRONOUNS IN YOUR EMAIL SIGNATURE DJEKOS’
I can assure you, ‘DJEKOS’, is not a word. But I think it covers the exclamation in her tone, and power of the act to her.
As a young trans person, this said to her that where I work is somewhere that talks about our identities and understands gender is not binary.
Don’t assume you know someone’s gender
To quote the cliche, assuming ‘makes an ass out of you and me’. And a concept, I understand because it shares parallels with unconscious homophobia too.
At college, I used to teach sessions with my LGBT group on ‘hetereosexism.’
It is prejudice against LGB people on the assumption that being straight is the normal sexual orientation.
I’d go and buy a stack of newspapers, and we’d get everyone to cut out and stick on one card all the straight relationships in adverts and stories. And on the other the queer ones.
Of course, one was very empty. The exercise allowed me to open up a discussion about what being gay is, and looks like.
I’d explain: Don’t assume that under my Blink-182 t-shirt is a straight lad from the audio production course – gays like pop punk too.
By making the outward gesture of including your pronouns when you introduce yourself, the impact is the same.
A simple and effective way to say: I recognize and respect your identity
‘Including your pronouns in your email signature is an important move towards Inclusivity,’ Gina Battye tells me.
She says that adding pronouns to your email signature is a simple yet effective way to signal to others that you recognize and respect everyone’s identity.
‘It shows you care about their preferences and it is a simple solution to accidental misgendering.’
If you are reading this and looking for a reason why you should get others in your organization to take on board it’s simple: including pronouns in introductions and email signatures often leads to discussions within organizations.
Something Battye, an LGBT+ Identity Coach who helps Fortune 500 companies with trans training, says leads to powerful cultural change:
‘It opens up the conversation around pronouns paving the way for trans, non-binary and gender fluid people. And when cis individuals include their pronouns, it helps to normalize the practice and reinforces the importance of not assuming pronouns.’
Patrick Reardon-Morgan from the Philharmonia Orchestra has just started including pronouns in his signature and is encouraging his colleagues to do the same:
‘It’s frustrating, but most of society has little understanding about gender identity and expression. People can react with hostility when you challenge their deeply held view of what sex and gender are.
‘But if we don’t challenge this, the world will remain deeply hostile to trans, non-binary and intersex people.
‘That’s why I’m working with my colleagues on gender issues and encouraging them to add pronouns to their emails. It’s time for cisgender people to abandon the idea that they are nature’s default setting. We’re not.’
They aren’t ‘preffered pronouns’
Last week, Brexit campaigner Darren Grimes asked people who put their ‘preffered pronouns’ in their Twitter bio because you are ‘just oh-so super “woke”’ to: ‘GET OFF OF MY TIMELINE.’
Grimes was dragged by various users in the LGBT Twittersphere for this delightful tweet.
So just for clarity. Let’s be clear on the questions around the phrase ‘preffered pronouns.’
Some trans-inclusive guides use this phrase. But here at Gay Star News, it’s our house style just to say – pronouns. To suggest they are preferred suggests they could be something different.
And if that’s who you are, that’s who you are. If they are your pronouns, they should be respected.
Want to know what someone’s pronouns are? Thankfully a really easy way to find out.
Just ask: ‘What pronouns do you use?’
Some trans and non-binary people might ask you to use the gender-neutral pronouns they/them/their.
Everyone’s gender identity and gender expression are on a spectrum. Understanding this is a key part of being a trans ally and should be part and parcel of including pronouns in your signature.
Challenging prejudices and stereotypes about gender is something we should all do. Adding pronouns to your signature is just one simple and effective action in that conversation.
Production Manager – Video and Digital Pride
Gay Star News Ltd