As a cis-gender person (someone who identifies with the gender assigned at birth), I take the world’s perception of my gender for granted. I identify as female and the way I am seen—in respect to my gender—is in complete sync with how I feel about myself. Given this perception non-issue, I am often asked why I add a line in my email signature that says – She/Her/Hers.
In a recent Well + Good article, Gabrielle Kassel writes, “When a cisgender person—or someone who is read by others as their identifying gender 100 percent of the time—showcases their preferred pronouns, it helps to normalize the practice for all people and recognizes that gender is way more complex than just “male” and “female.”
As a practitioner in the space of diversity and inclusion, here’s why I do it and why you should consider taking this small action, as well:
1. I’m an ally
While I come from the life lens of being clear and un-wavering in my gender, it’s important to me to provide a safe space to those in my orbit and beyond who are not. For those who have struggled to step into their gender identity and those who are now clear their gender is fluid or nonbinary. By sharing my pronouns, I hope to send the message to all people with whom I’m in conversation—it’s safe to share yours and to be you. I see you.
2. It’s a tool to shift perspectives
When I am asked questions about my pronouns, I’m able to educate my cisgender peers on the very reasons I’m defining them as important to all of you now. My knowledge of their importance is informed by the work and wisdom of transgender and nonbinary writers, gender inclusion activists and strategists. But when I take part in sharing this perspective with companies and people who don’t yet understand it, I can help chip away at the emotional toll experienced by trans and nonbinary folks to always be communicating who they are and why it’s OK. Of course, it doesn’t feel like enough—given how far we need to go to create truly diverse and safe spaces, but it’s an easy thing we all can do to push the conversation forward.
3. It helps connect me to other allies
The first place I noticed pronouns in email signatures was with one of my corporate partners. It signaled to me that this was a company that was striving toward being a truly diverse and inclusive workplace, and as I learned more about the organization, that did appear to be the case. Now, when companies or colleagues see my signature, they note I may be a safe coach for their transgender and gender non-conforming employees. And conversely, when I have transgender and nonbinary clients in job searches and career transitions, I can help them target a list of employers that walk their D&I talk.
Beyond email, the next step would be to update your LinkedIn profile. In their Medium article, Argo Collective founder and Gender Inclusion strategist, Max Massure provides a simple how-to on the best way to do this—in addition to providing further rationale for cisgender folks to make these tweaks. While my focus here has been on the professional side of our lives, when we have family and dearest friends in the LGBTQ+ community—this small step is yet another way we can show them allyship, our support and our lov