Maybe you are new to the practice of asking constituents for pronouns and are wondering, how important are pronouns, really?
Pronouns are such seemingly "small" words, yet are inextricably tied to how we perceive and identify others -- and ourselves. Using the correct pronoun is one way that we show our respect for someone and we make them feel welcome. Historically, as a culture we've approached gender as binary (i.e., he or she), yet many individuals identify outside of the gender binary. We simply cannot assume someone fits an "either/or" framework. Nor can we assume someone's pronouns based on their name or physical appearance. There are real consequences to getting it wrong - if we misgender someone, they are less likely to feel valued or included by us.
"Why does this matter? It is no secret that many of us who are perceived as outliers to society, for whatever reason, must do the extra work daily to both advance professionally and represent our identities in that advancement. . . It is an important step to normalize the use of gender pronouns and identity by all means available to us: business cards, email signatures, drivers’ licenses, in databases, and in the tools we use that provide normalizing frameworks to our interactions with others."
Now IT Matters is honored to partner with Name Coach, a Salesforce ISV that has created digital tools for organizations wanting to build a more inclusive environment by prioritizing proper name pronunciation and gender pronoun communication. NameCoach's philosophy is that "Our names are central to our unique identities, and saying them correctly is the first step in connecting with, respecting, and appreciating one another." And here at NiM, we couldn't agree more! We encourage our staff to include their pronouns as part of email signatures, Zoom names, on name tags, and in a variety of other avenues. The more comfortable we all become with communicating our pronouns, the more we reduce the undue burden others carry.
Sincere thanks to Tracy for this important post -- and for the authenticity and courage they showed in sharing it with the world. We're proud to have you on #TeamNiM, Tracy!