Gender Inclusion Hacks: 10 ways to stop being oblivious and start being a decent human
1. Give non-gendered salutations a try
We’re used to using salutations like sir, ma’am and madam. But more often than not, it feels more courteous to leave those out. When using terms of endearment (bro, dude, lady), you are likely speaking informally with a friend. Try using words like, well, friend. It’s more comfortable than you think. OK, friend?
2. Address a group with care
We know “Hey, guys” is a common default greeting. While it may seem harmless, you might be misgendering* someone and not even know it. Try using y’all, friends, folks, people, team, everybody or everyone. Challenge yourself by omitting “guys” for an entire day. Putting a tiny bit of effort into using inclusive language can make a huge impact.
3. Describe a person as a person
When describing someone, rather than using gendered descriptors (“that guy with the red hair”), try saying “person” instead. Because “that person with red hair” is actually more accurate. They are a person and their gender doesn’t concern you. It’s always better not to assume.
4. Start by sharing your pronouns
Even if you’re cisgender,* sharing your pronouns not only lets other people know how you identify but encourages them to do the same in turn. When you say “Hi, I’m Max, I use he/him pronouns,” it helps others feel comfortable to share theirs. You can even add pronouns to your email signature! Also, avoid the term “preferred.” Simply ask “What pronouns do you use?”
5. Move on from missteps
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we misgender people by accidentally using the wrong name or pronoun. If that happens and someone corrects you, just offer a simple apology and move on. Don’t attempt to justify the mistake or over-apologize, and try not to feel too bad.
6. Retire from the Bathroom Police
Your services in this area are not necessary. There’s no need to stare at people using the bathroom. If you feel uncomfortable around someone using the facilities, try removing yourself from the equation. It’s not your job to decide what bathroom people use.
7. Remember to forget, Birth names = Dead names
If someone tells you their name, that’s their name. Asking for someone’s “real” name or “birth” name can be a triggering and deeply painful experience. Asking to see “before” pictures is similarly offensive, as is outing* someone as trans. The world can be a dangerous place for trans people, and this is an important safety issue. #AcceptanceIsProtection
8. Unlearn your normal
Try not to use words like “normal” and “regular” in reference to heterosexual and cisgender people. It implies that cis-het* people are superior and natural, whereas trans and nonbinary people are inferior and artificial. Naturally, that doesn’t feel good.
9. Keep your hands and your probing to yourself
Let’s be honest, expressing overt and non-consensual interest in someone’s body is never a good thing to do. It’s no different for trans people, especially for questions around surgeries or genitals. Just don’t.
10. Significantly othering
When referring to someone’s significant other, try using neutral words like spouse or partner. Develop the habit of avoiding assumptions and maintaining respect.
We know that’s a lot to take in. Our advice is to pick one of these tips and try it at work for a week. That’s not so scary, right? If you already know most of these, try casually sending them to your colleague who sits at the desk next to you. Who knows, maybe they’ll even enjoy the challenge.
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- Misgendering — Associating a person with a gender they do not identify with.
- Cisgender — Describes a person whose identity and gender align with the sex/gender they were assigned at birth.
- Outing — Sharing a person’s trans identity, gender and/or sexual orientation with others without permission.
- Cis-het — Cisgender and heterosexual.