So, What's the Deal with the Pronouns?
So, what’s the deal with the pronouns?
You might have seen them first on LinkedIn, or maybe heard references in an academic setting. “My personal pronouns are he, him, they.” Those pronouns are showing up on Slack profiles and Zoom screens as well. I’ve heard a few questions in the workplace about it. Why are people declaring their pronouns? Isn’t it obvious who people are? Will I be asked about my pronouns? What about other things where we see names?
Let’s take a look at these questions so that we can all have a better understanding.
Why are people declaring their pronouns?
Over the past few years in America, the subjects of gender and appearance have become a regular talking point in the public dialogue. As institutions adjust to new concepts like same-sex marriage, topics like transgenderism are drawing new attention. Not everyone identifies with their biological sex, making personal appearance an unreliable guide to another person’s gender.
Many people who don’t identify with or fit the traditional appearance of their gender are uncomfortable when others assume their gender incorrectly. Pronouns in the English language don’t manage that scenario very well. When given the opportunity, one might offer their personal pronouns so that others can feel comfortable with the pronouns they use.
Why do this if it doesn’t directly affect me?
Will I be required to declare my pronouns?
Why only specify pronouns? What about other things?
Technically, you could use a ‘name’ field in an application to declare many things about yourself, but the intended use is for personal identification. Gender has long been a part of personal identification; I’ve been called Mr. McNair a million times. Offering personal pronouns along with your name helps others know how to address you, which is all that’s needed in a ‘name’ field.
Hopefully this little explainer has answered a few questions for you. If you have other questions about using personal pronouns in the workplace, reach out to HR or me and we can provide additional resources.