Pronouns at Victra

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?

  1. 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.

Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP)

August 5, 1943, marks the official forming of The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). It was a civilian women pilots’ organization, whose members were United States federal civil service employees. Members of WASP became trained pilots who tested aircraft, ferried aircraft, and trained other pilots. Their purpose was to free male pilots for combat roles during World War II. Despite various members of the armed forces being involved in the creation of the program, the WASP and its members had no military standing.

The WASP arrangement with the US Army Air Forces ended on December 20, 1944. During its period of operation, each member’s service had freed a male pilot for military combat or other duties. They flew over 60 million miles; transported every type of military aircraft; towed targets for live anti-aircraft gun practice; simulated strafing missions and transported cargo. Thirty-eight WASP members lost their lives and one, Gertrude Tompkins, disappeared while on a ferry mission, her fate still unknown.

The records of the WASP program, like nearly all wartime files, were classified and sealed for 35 years making their contributions to the war effort little known and inaccessible to historians. However, there were unofficial historians, like WASP, Marty Wyall, who collected scrapbooks and newspaper clipping about what the WASP members had done and what they had gone on to do.

After enduring discrimination and a long and difficult fight with congress, the WASP members were given the recognition they deserved:

  • In 1975 under the leadership of Col. Bruce Arnold, along with the surviving WASP members, organized as a group again and began what they called the “Battle of Congress.”
  • In 1977, for their World War II service, the members were granted veteran status by President Jimmy Carter.
  • 1984, each WASP was awarded the World War II Victory Medal. Those who served for more than one year were also awarded American Theater Ribbon/American Campaign Medal for their service during the war. Many of the medals were accepted by the recipients’ sons and daughters on their behalf.
  • The 1977 legislation did not expressly allow WASPs to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, but in 2002, the Army re-considered and decided to allow it. In 2015, however, the Army re-interpreted the law and ruled that the statute did not mandate the burial of deceased WASPs at Arlington. When WASP, Elaine Harmon, died on April 21, 2015, her request to have her ashes interred at Arlington was denied. Another WASP, Florence Shutsy-Reynolds, began a social media campaign to advocate for Harmon and other WASP members who wished to be interred at Arlington. Legislation in 2016 seemingly overruled the Army’s interpretation and it was widely reported that WASPs could “again” be buried at Arlington.
  • In 2002 WASP member Deanie Bishop Parrish and her daughter began plans for a museum dedicated to telling the WASP story. The National WASP WWII Museum’s grand opening was held on May 28, 2005, which was the 62 anniversary of the first WASP graduating class.
  • In 2009, the WASPs were inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.
  • On July 1, 2009, President Barack Obama and the United States Congress awarded the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal.
  • On New Year’s Day in 2014 the Rose Parade featured a float with eight WASP members riding on it.

Victra is glad to recognize and bring awareness to these heroes. These women rose above discrimination and fought continuously to be rightfully recognized for their contributions. During the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony, President Obama said it well:

“The Women Airforce Service Pilots courageously answered their country’s call in a time of need while blazing a trail for the brave women who have given and continue to give so much in service to this nation since. Every American should be grateful for their service, and I am honored to sign this bill to finally give them some of the hard-earned recognition they deserve.”

National Sisters Day

NATIONAL SISTERS DAY – First Sunday in August

National Sisters Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of August — this year it falls on August 1. Nothing can quite compare to the bond that sisters have and this is a day to treasure the closeness that forms as you grow up together, sharing your secrets, your dreams, and all the fun times. Sisters have a deep connection that grows throughout childhood and remains strong throughout life. National Sisters Day is a chance for you to spend some quality time with your sister and to cherish the connection that you have,

Click here to learn more about the history of National Sisters Day and how to celebrate it!

International Non-Binary People’s Day

July 14th is International Non-binary People’s Day, which aims to celebrate the wide range of people worldwide who identify as non-binary. But do you know what it means to be non-binary? And do you know how you can better support non-binary people? Here are some ideas!

Let’s start with the basics- What does non-binary refer to?

Non-binary is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity doesn’t sit comfortably with ‘man’ or ‘woman’. Non-binary identities are varied and can include people who identify with some aspects of binary identities, while others reject them entirely.

Non-binary people can feel that their gender identity and gender experience involves being both masculine and feminine, or that it is fluid, in between, or completely outside of that binary.

Gender Identity vs Gender Expression

In order to understand non-binary gender identities better, it’s vital to understand the difference between gender identity and gender expression.

Gender identity refers to a person’s clear sense of their own gender. This is not something which is governed by a person’s physical attributes. Gender expression is how you express yourself and just like the rest of society, non-binary people have all sorts of ways to express themselves and their identity. They can present as masculine, feminine or in another way and this can change over time, but none of these expressions make their identity any less valid or worthy of respect.

What can I do to be an ally for non-binary people?

There are many ways to be inclusive of everyone, regardless of their gender identity. Here at Victra, we support using language that’s inclusive for all. It may take a bit of getting used to, but it will make people feel acknowledged and valid.

Here are 8 tips you can start using right away!

  1. Introduce yourself with your name and pronoun. Stating your pronouns reminds people that it might not always be immediately obvious what pronoun someone uses.
  2. Not everyone necessarily uses ‘he’ or ‘she’ pronouns and it’s important to be respectful of people who use different pronouns. The most common gender-neutral pronoun is the singular ‘they’ (they/them/theirs). Using people’s correct pronouns shows that you respect them and who they are.
  3. Using the pronoun ‘they’ is very useful when someone’s gender or identity is unknown. You will often already be using it without realizing, i.e. ‘somebody left their hat, I wonder if they will come back to get it.’
  4. Put your pronouns in your email signature or social media profile.
  5. Instead of addressing groups of people with binary language such as ‘ladies and gentlemen’, try more inclusive alternatives such as ‘folks’ or ‘everyone.’
  6. Use words that define the relationship instead of the relationship and gender. For example, use ‘parents’, ‘partner’, ‘children’ or ‘siblings.’
  7. Not everyone is comfortable with gendered titles such as ‘Ms’ or ‘Mr’. Titles are not always necessary, but if they must be used, it’s good to provide alternative ones such as ‘Mx’ (pronounced mix or mux)
  8. Use the singular ‘their’ instead of ‘his/her’ in letters and other forms of writing, i.e. ‘when a colleague finishes their work’ as opposed to ‘when a colleague finishes his/her work.’

Philippine-American Friendship Day

July 4th is most commonly known as the day the United States of America celebrates its independence. However, July 4th isn’t only a significant day for the United States. The Philippines, once a territory of the US, once celebrated on the same day by recognizing the date of July 4th 1946 when complete independence was declared. The date of the country’s independence celebration was moved to June 12, and in its place Philippine-American Friendship Day was created and still continues to be celebrated in areas of the United States and the Philippines.

Embedded in the POCU mission statement is the word education. We actively seek out moments where we can learn more from each other cultures, honor our shared history, and recognize the rich moments of intersectionality.

Opal Cuenca, Assistant Store Manager of the TX-Houston Sam location, has been a member of the VNation family for 11 years! They shared this with us.

“I grew up with my mom being a Caucasian mix and my dad being Filipino, that all people are people. It doesn’t matter your race, nationality, color, creed… we are all one species and all deserve to be celebrated with life. Now I get to be part of a company that does the same thing, values all life! I am proud to be so for 11 years now and counting! Go VNATION!! #coolpeople #coolplace #VNation”

Stonewall

The Stonewall Riots, also called the Stonewall Uprising, began in the early hours of June 28, 1969 when NYC police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City. The raid sparked a riot among bar patrons and neighborhood residents, leading to six days of protests. The Stonewall Uprising served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world. While this movement in the United States has seen huge progress in the last century, and especially the last two decades, the fight for equality continues today.


At Victra, we honor and remember this struggle and growth. We work to positively contribute to a better world for all by creating an inclusive community for all employees, partners, and Guests. We are excited to announce our newest Employee Resource Group, Victra Pride Alliance [VPA]. In alignment with our values, we want to not only recognize, but celebrate, the many different facets of VNation’s diversity.


Pictured are members of our #VNation family representing their pride! We look forward to celebrating, supporting; and uplifting the LGBTQIA+ community as we remember Stonewall and celebrate #Pride throughout the upcoming years.

Celebrating Juneteenth

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865 when Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. The name Juneteenth is a blending of the words June and nineteenth. It is the oldest known US celebration of the end of slavery.

As we continue to stand with the Black community and determine ways to support our employees, Victra will be celebrating the Juneteenth milestone this year and in years to come. Juneteenth has been added to Victra’s special hours holiday schedule and our teams across the country will be encouraged to wear black clothing to demonstrate solidarity with the holiday.

Exciting Update!

President Biden signed a bill into law on Thursday, June 17th to officially make Juneteenth a national holiday. It is officially established as Juneteenth National Independence Day!


Juneteenth Facts

● In 1863, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
● June 19 is not about slaves being freed, it marks the day that enslaved Texans had been free for two and a half years, and yet had never been informed.
● The first celebration was in 1866.
● The Juneteenth flag colors, red, white, and blue represents the American flag, to honor the fact that the enslaved people were Americans, the star represents Texas, the final state to free its slaves.
● Freed people had difficulty celebrating the first anniversary of Juneteenth due to segregation laws.
● Juneteenth became a state holiday in Texas in 1980.
● Juneteenth is also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, & Liberation Day.
● People in Texas, Oklahoma, & Louisiana celebrated first.
● Juneteenth should be celebrated same way independence day is.
● Some cities and groups have Miss Juneteenth contest.
● Strawberry soda pop was once a popular drink associated with celebrating the day.


A Message from our CEO

VNation,
As we continue to stand together with the Black community and determine ways to support our employees, I am happy to announce we will be celebrating the Juneteenth milestone this Saturday, June 19th.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865 when Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.
Because this historic moment is important for all of us to celebrate each year, Victra wants to ensure that all employees can celebrate both with the VNation and personally. To support this, I have asked that Juneteenth be added to the holiday special hours schedule starting this year. In addition, we will all be wearing black garments (within the dress code) to show solidarity on Juneteenth.
With this, we will be celebrating this Saturday the 19th including shutting down all store locations by no later than 7 p.m.

Gung Ho!
Rich