Here at Victra, we believe every person has the right to be addressed by a name and pronouns that correspond to their gender identity. Regardless of whether a transgender or gender nonconforming person has legally changed their name or gender, Victra will allow them to use a chosen name and pronouns that reflect their identity.
VNation has people from a variety of backgrounds and we want to celebrate their individuality. Using correct pronouns can help to create a respectful and inclusive community for all employees, vendors and guests. Promoting more inclusive language and culture is an ongoing effort as we learn and grow. We are excited to continue this journey with you.
What is a pronoun?
In English, gender pronouns are gender identifiers for the third-person singular. In the past, gender pronouns were separated into masculine (he/him/his) and feminine (she/her/hers). This separation of masculine and feminine is called gender binary and only recognizes men and women. Many people identify outside of the gender binary. Gender-neutral pronouns such as they/them or xe/xer/xers allow individuals to use pronouns they feel fit with their identities.
Click here to check out our blog post celebrating International Non-Binary People’s Day to learn more about gender identity and tips for being a good ally.
Why do pronouns matter?
Pronouns, like personal names, are connected to a person’s identity. Just as we can show respect by calling others by their correct name(s), we can show respect by using the correct pronouns. Using the wrong pronoun can make a person feel uncomfortable and possibly invalidated or alienated.
A person’s name or physical appearance does not necessarily indicate their gender so we should not make gender assumptions based on these. Names are often culturally linked and many names are used for different genders; not every name is specifically male or female. It can be challenging to determine a person’s gender from their name alone and some people do not identify with a binary gender.
Gendered language can also carry a specific connotation, even when unintentional.
“I worry about what people with the best of intentions are teaching our children. A colleague’s five-year-old daughter recently left her classroom crying after a teacher said, ‘What do you guys think?’. She thought the teacher didn’t care about what she thought. When the teacher told her that of course she was included, her tears stopped. But what was the lesson? She learned that her opinion as a girl mattered only when she’s a guy. She learned that men are the norm.”Sherryl Kleinman – Why Sexist Language Matters
How can you encourage conversation about pronouns and integrate it into Victra’s culture?
- You can add your pronouns to your email signature line.
2. You can share your pronouns on a badge reel, nametag, or button.
3. You can use more gender neutral language in everyday conversation. Try these substitutions!
4. Share your pronouns with coworkers, vendors or guests. Ask them politely if they would like to share theirs (if they prefer not to share their pronouns, simply refer to them by their name).
Example: “So that I can be sure to refer to you correctly, I would love to learn both the name that you go by and, if you are comfortable sharing, the pronouns you use. For example, you can call me insert name and my pronouns are she/her.”
How do I talk to others about pronouns?
We interact with many people every day, and not all may agree with our choice to share pronouns. Below is suggested language that you can use for specific situations where the topic may come up in conversation.
Comment: I don’t agree with you sharing your pronouns. It just isn’t necessary.
Potential response: I understand where you are coming from, but to me pronoun visibility really is necessary. Many people have a name and gender that correspond with traditional pronoun usage; however, this is not the case for all. Some of our employees, guests, and vendors have continually been referred to by the wrong pronoun, which makes them feel disrespected. Rather than just asking those individuals to share their pronouns, we can be inclusive and all embrace this practice. It removes any ambiguity and the potential to hurt. This is why it is important to me.
Comment: I’ve noticed that you are including pronouns in your signature line/nametag. Why is that?
Potential response: Thanks for noticing my pronouns! Many places give space for people to share their pronouns and I am trying to initiate a similar practice here at Victra. Sharing my pronouns is meant to raise awareness of gender identities and to help others feel comfortable sharing their pronouns as well. Victra is a diverse company, so there are many opportunities to inadvertently use the wrong pronoun. It is important that we make efforts to show respect to each other; this is one way to do so.
What if I don’t want to share my gender pronouns with others?
That’s ok! Providing space and opportunity for people to share their pronouns does not mean that everyone feels comfortable or needs to share them. Some people may choose not to share their pronouns for a variety of reasons, e.g. they are questioning or using different pronouns, they don’t use any pronouns, they don’t feel comfortable sharing them at that moment or in that space, or they fear repercussions after sharing.
Whatever the reasoning behind the choice not to identify your pronouns, the point is that you have the choice. The goal is to provide people with the opportunity to share their gender pronouns if they choose.
*In the case that someone has left pronouns off the nametag or chosen not to share their pronouns, please refrain from using pronouns for that person and refer to the person by what is on the nametag.