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I’m Offended; My Pronoun is ‘They’

by Jericho Zafra

Recently updated on February 8, 2023 02:50 pm

WORDS matter.

“How would you like to be addressed?” Probably some have heard this question in an interview or inside a diverse workplace. This question introduces a discussion of who you are and gives a better path of how the interviewer would handle the flow of dialogue.

For most members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual (LGBTQIA+) community, it’s a “green flag” if someone asked them their preference since it allows them to express themselves.

Because words do matter to them – especially pronouns.

Gender expansive employees

“Because gender identity is internal — an internal sense of one’s own gender — we don’t necessarily know a person’s correct gender pronoun by looking at them,” said The Human Rights Campaign Foundation in a report.

Individuals that do not self-identify as male or female are considered gender expansive. These employees frequently challenge the pre-existing knowledge and practices that are associated with gender. In place of the gendered pronouns “he, him, and his” or “she, her, and hers,” these employees may choose to use gender-expansive pronouns such as “they, them, and theirs.”

Most typically see or evaluate the gender of an individual depending on their outer appearance and how they express themselves, and then people attribute a pronoun to them. On the other hand, probably, our understanding of the person’s gender identification is not accurate.

That’s because some are unaware that most members of the community prefer to be addressed through their gender pronouns and it drives their sense of belongingness to the team just by the simple “Hi Mx.” (x replaced r and/or s to safely address whether a person wants to be called Mr. or Ms.)

Pronouns misuse

People can refer to other people without using their names by using gender pronouns. Using the right pronouns for someone respects their gender identity and promotes an inclusive environment.

And for some, being addressed by improper pronouns means misgendering.

“Since the majority of people in my workplace remain traditional with their beliefs, sometimes it’s hard to confront them because I feel like they will never understand my situation,” said Mitch Costales, a program researcher who prefers to be addressed as they/them in the workplace.

Misgendering is an uncomfortable and potentially disorienting experience that can also cause emotional turmoil. Misgendering another person inadvertently can be a humiliating experience for all people involved, leading to increased friction as well as communication failures within teams and with clients and customers.

Acceptance in the workplace

However, For Angelique Alitao, a human resource chief of a corporate company, using the right pronouns regardless of their physical representation means showing support in changing the landscape of the workplace.

“What we need in the workplace is understanding and acceptance, showing them the simple gesture of using the right pronouns speaks volume to how progressive the workplace is and how transformative policies are if we are to implement them humanely,” said Alitao in Filipino during a phone interview.

Taking inclusion one step at a time

The staging of educational and learning training in conjunction with the dissemination of materials is the most effective method for facilitating conversations about the appropriate use of pronouns. As per Alitao, programs like this allow other employees to become aware of the changing society and the necessity for employees to become equipped in terms of dealing with gender-neutral discussions.

However, the baby step towards getting inclusion is by simply asking “Hi, what is your name? What are your pronouns?” 

Words are powerful, and so are we.



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