There are many ways to be an ally for transgender and gender non-conforming persons in the professional space, but you may ask yourselves, ‘what avenue has value’ or ‘is it worth it’? Is doing something like adding my pronouns into my email signature as a cisgender person, helpful?
Short answer: Yes
Long Answer: The Truth of It
A couple years ago, I was responsible for finding an agency to redesign my organization’s website. At the same time, I was coming out to my social circle as non-binary and learning how freeing it felt to be addressed with the correct pronouns. I spoke with agencies of all sizes and focuses, but only one had pronouns in their signature.
I remember the first-time seeing pronouns in the signature line. It felt like a calling card – telling me this person was ‘in-the-know’; she was safe.
After that organization was selected, my contact made sure the whole team knew my pronouns. On the kickoff call, the PM asked everyone to share pronouns, and started with herself. Throughout the relationship, this agency’s team would use my pronouns definitively even as my own coworkers missed the mark.That feeling of support and affirmation from allies was unique and impactful. It was one of the first times I had allies show up for me without asking. And it made me a better partner to them on the project as I showed up more honest and engaged because I knew I could be there wholly.
The organization I hired? Firefly Partners.
Including pronouns in email signatures (or in zoom or other profile names) is a very easy step for organizations to take that immediately signals that you are allies for people of all gender identities. This simple act gives the recipient more oxygen to breathe and creates a level of trust immediately that allows people to show up as their whole selves in a known safe space, which can remove barriers and make project work more successful. For Firefly Partners, creating a culture and a team that delivers this level of affirmation and invitation is a constant evolution, but it begins with listening and choosing to show up.
The pronouns in all of our bios, whether cis or trans, is us showing up and signaling our stance as an ally for all who see it. It also provides an opportunity for education for those that don’t know what it stands for or why we do it.
And if you’re an ally, or want to be an ally, you are invited to show up with us too. Know that putting your own pronouns in your work and personal email signatures is an invitation and first step. Know that being an ally is not a destination you reach or status you earned, but a continual process. A process where you will likely be imperfect, but you listen first, grow, and lead with acceptance.