A Note on Pronouns

An important part of DOJ Pride’s mission is “the elimination of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in all Departmental activities.” DOJ Pride works to make the Department of Justice an inclusive and welcoming place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) employees, contractors, interns, and applicants; LGBTQ individuals who have dealings with the Department; and our allies.

One way that you, as a Department employee, can help promote an inclusive environment is to proactively identify your pronouns in professional settings, such as in your email signature. Identifying your pronouns is a good practice for people who are cisgender (someone whose gender identity corresponds with their gender assigned at birth), because it can both communicate your gender identity and signal that you won’t make assumptions about another person’s gender or pronouns based on their name or the way they look. And it may make it safer for transgender, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary colleagues or members of the public with whom we interact to identify their pronouns, too.

If you have questions about terms like transgender, gender nonconforming, or nonbinary, feel free to reach out to DOJ Pride and we can direct you to helpful resources. People may identify pronouns for themselves that are unfamiliar to you, and we are happy to direct you to resources on this as well. It’s important to be mindful that gender- and pronoun-use can be deeply personal, and it is inappropriate to probe the issue just because someone has shared their pronouns with you, particularly in a professional setting. People may identify their pronouns as “they/them,” a pronoun that in usage would still carry a plural verb—“They are a terrific lawyer. I really like working with them.” Again, please reach out to DOJ Pride if you’d like more information on this.

Not everyone will be comfortable identifying their pronouns, and no one should feel like they must, particularly if the situation doesn’t feel safe. But if you are comfortable sharing your pronouns, then consider adding your pronouns to your email signature, your professional bio, or your name tag at work events or conferences. When introducing yourself at a meeting, you can give both your name and your pronouns—even if no one asks. Once you’ve started the conversation about pronouns, others will likely join in, and the practice will help to ensure that we don’t misgender (using a pronoun or other form of address that does not reflect the person’s gender) our colleagues.

An inclusive workplace is one where we all feel safe, respected, and able to be our authentic selves. Identifying your pronouns is, for many, a small act that can go a long way toward building an inclusive workplace at DOJ.