Using pronouns in introductions
I've written about pronouns here before. Specifically 5 Whys and 5 Hows for using pronouns, and a guide to how Grease Rag uses pronouns in our spaces.
To explore a different facet of this topic, I asked some professionals I work with,
"Why or why don't you use pronoun introductions in your meetings?"
Some people used them every time, and felt very comfortable with the practice. Some people needed more information about how to explain that in a different language, or how to answer questions that might come up, or how to deal with people not respecting the process, e.g. "I don't care what you call me! I never think about gender identity so you can call me 'mud' if it makes you happy!" #cisprivilege Another person said they just don't think about it, and honestly, would never ask/offer in a professional setting.
Let's define some terms
That's a fancy college-word. Really, it means, "How do you like to be referred to?" As she? As he? As they? (And there are others, too! And it's okay if you don't feel comfortable sharing that with me.) Why is it important? Because we all experience gender in different ways, and using someone's self-identified pronouns is a great way to honor their experience and identity.
If you need a primer on "gender," check out the Genderbread person.
Short for "cis gender," and refers to folks who identify with the gender they were given due to their genital arrangement. Born with a "female" genital arrangement? You were probably assigned "girl/woman." If you identify as such, you are a cis woman!
If you are a cis gender person, you have cis-privilege! Not sure what that looks like? Check out this privilege checklist.
Start this conversation with people around you
I am so happy I started this conversation! I was able to offer up some thoughts and experiences to help people get more comfortable with the practice of using pronouns. I encourage you to start this conversation with the people in your life. I recognize that everything I write about gender and identity are my OPINIONS. They are not univeral truths. Like all things related to identity, there are a lot of ways to navigate, and everyone has different comfort levels and preferences. Communication is your best compass.
Pronouns are "unprofessional"
But let's take a moment to think about what it means to hear, "I will not discuss pronouns in a professional setting." Hearing this reminded me that, for some people, there is no place for transgender people (in the broadest sense, including genderfluid, agender, and other identities) in professional settings. Basically, your non-cis gender identity is "unprofessional."
"Professional" is a code for a classist, masculine, male world. A place where there is a strict/expensive dress code, women are expected to wear makeup and look a certain way and can be called a "bitch" for behavior which might cause a man to be lauded as a "strong leader." A place where transgender people are not considered. This is not news to me. But we can do better by contributing to spaces which honor trans identity. Read More