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A step forward towards inclusivity and respect

You receive an email from someone whose email signature ends with the name ‘Jane Mark’ or ‘Sascha Smith’ and you start scratching your head with the following questions:

  • Is Jane or Mark the first name?

  • Is Sascha a male or a female?

  • How do I reply to this person – Mr or Ms or…?

It so happens that many times, irrespective if you are cisgender or transgender person, when communicating with people from all over the world, we are faced with names that are either are beyond our cultural knowledge and thus unrecognizable in their gender or names which we often assume their gender based on our personal biases and preferences.

Some names can be gender-neutral (for e.g Chris, Alex, Sascha, Rain) and some names can be surnames or vice-versa (for e.g Mark, Clayton, Jay).

Adding Pronouns (He-Him-His / She-Her-Hers / They-Their-Them) as part of your email signature is a step forward towards embracing values of respect and inclusion as well as creating a dialogue towards increased sensitivity of people’s diverse identities.

In certain cases, transgender people may be going through their transition and one of the first steps they take is to change their gender pronoun. It is therefore important to recognize the pronouns they prefer to use rather than assuming their gender based on their physical appearance.

Another reason to add your preferred pronoun is that some people do not define themselves as either male or female; they are often referred to as Non-Binary or Genderfluid/Genderqueer and in this case, would be offensive and disrespectful if their gender is assumed without first asking. In such cases, they are referred to by the gender pronouns ‘They/Their/Them’. Other forms of pronouns can be used, and this should be left at the discretion of the person to identify with whatever pronoun they prefer to use.

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