I recently joined National Legal Service, and one of the things I noticed and was heartened by was that an email I received early in the process had the person’s pronouns in their signature.
Seeing these few little letters allowed me to feel happy and confident to request that my pronouns were also included in my signature.
You may wonder why this matters to me and the answer is a very personal one; as the parent of a non-binary child, I see how stressful everyday encounters can be when they have to correct people as to what to call them, or alternatively just be misgendered and feel uncomfortable.
Putting your pronouns in your email signature is a small way of showing solidarity to people who do not identify as simply male or female and also normalising people expressing what their pronouns are, making it easier for non-binary people to speak up about their preferred pronouns.
Most people never have to think or worry about their pronouns or how people will refer to them in terms of gender, but for those people who do, making it easier for them to express their preferred pronouns makes an enormous difference.
I have witnessed first-hand my child visibly relax when in a new situation after being asked by someone what their preferred pronouns are.
With increased LGBTQ+ representation in the mainstream (if you haven’t watched Heartstopper I urge you to do so immediately!) it’s important that companies look at what they can do to make their workplace more inclusive.
Here are just a few examples of what you can do:
- When meeting someone new, introduce yourself using your pronouns. This might feel strange at first but does get easier!
- If you are unsure about someone’s pronouns, don’t assume – just ask.
- If your workplace asks people to fill out forms with drop down menus for titles make sure Mx is included along with Mr, Mrs etc.
- If your workplace asks about gender in any situation, make sure there is an option for non-binary.
I can confirm from experience that adjusting to using non-gendered pronouns can take some getting used to but does get much easier with practise – for example not only referring to someone as they/them but referring to a group of children as children or kids, rather than boys or girls, or a sibling rather than a brother/sister becomes second nature after time. non-binary
Even the courts are catching on – since 1 December 2022 judges in a wide variety of different tribunals are to be called simply “judge” rather than “Sir/Madam” as was previous practice, in order to reflect more modern and simple terminology.
These small simple changes all contribute towards creating a more diverse and welcoming environment, whether that be at work or elsewhere, and I am proud to be part of an organisation that is leading the way.
Written by Sara Sanderson.