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Why Respecting Pronouns in the Workplace is Vital for Trans People

As a trans person, it's important to respect pronouns in the workplace, especially for those who identify outside of the gender binary. It may seem like a small detail to some, but to those of us who identify outside of the gender binary, it can mean the world.

"I was nervous about how my coworkers would react to my pronouns and if they would even bother to use them."

I remember starting my first job after coming out as non-binary. I was nervous about how my coworkers would react to my pronouns and if they would even bother to use them. The first few days were a nightmare. People referred to me as "she" and "her", even after I politely corrected them. It made me feel like I didn't belong, like my identity was a joke to them. It was exhausting to have to constantly correct them, and it made me feel upset, angry, and frustrated. Every time it happened, it was a reminder that I wasn't seen or accepted for who I truly was.

At times, I felt like I wasn't "trans enough" because I didn't fit into the traditional binary categories, causing me to doubt my identity. I had to put in extra effort to lower my voice or dress more masculine to prevent this from happening as often, but it was exhausting.

I often wondered if it was worth it to correct people or if it would just make the situation worse. Would they understand what transmasculine meant? Would they take me seriously? Correcting people who misgendered me was a constant battle that caused anxiety and stress at work.

When my supervisor asked how I was doing, I told her how it felt to be constantly misgendered. I was hesitant at first, not wanting to cause any trouble, but I decided to be honest. I told her how it felt to be constantly misgendered and how it made me dread coming to work every day. To my surprise, she was incredibly supportive and made sure everyone knew to respect my pronouns.

From that point on, things got a lot easier. My coworkers started to use my correct pronouns, and it made all the difference in the world. I felt seen and respected in a way I hadn't before. It gave me the confidence to be myself and to do my job without the added stress of constantly correcting people. With the support of my new allies, I had the strength to stand up for myself with customers as well, and it was an opportunity to educate and raise awareness. While not everyone was receptive to the information, knowing that I had a team who had my back made all the difference.

While it was a relief to finally be referred to by my correct pronouns in the workplace, there was a side effect that I wasn't expecting: some people were overly apologetic when they messed up. While I appreciated their efforts to correct their mistakes, it became frustrating when they went overboard with their apologies. It was as if they were expecting me to comfort them when I was the one who had just been hurt. It made me feel like my gender identity was a burden for them to bear, rather than a fundamental part of who I am. It also put me in the uncomfortable position of having to reassure them that it was okay, when in reality, it wasn't.

"While I appreciated the effort to correct their mistakes, I didn't think it was necessary for people to apologize profusely every time they misgendered me."

I understand that using new pronouns can take some getting used to, and I don't expect perfection overnight. While I appreciated the effort to correct their mistakes, I didn't think it was necessary for people to apologize profusely every time they misgendered me. Simply correcting yourself and moving on is often enough. It's important to strike a balance between acknowledging the mistake and not making the situation all about yourself.

What mattered most, was that my coworkers were making a genuine effort to use my correct pronouns, and their willingness to learn and adjust their language showed me that they respected my identity. They were committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive workplace, and this gave me the confidence to be my authentic self at work, without fear of being misgendered or invalidated.

I wish I could say that my experience is the norm, but unfortunately, that's not always the case. I've heard countless stories from other trans and non-binary people who have been misgendered or outright ignored in the workplace. It's frustrating, dehumanizing, and it needs to stop.

"If you are a queer person who is struggling to advocate for yourself, know that you are not alone."

If you are a queer person who is struggling to advocate for yourself, know that you are not alone. It can be a difficult and emotional process to constantly correct others and assert your identity. It's important to remember that using correct pronouns is not just a matter of politeness; it's about acknowledging and respecting someone's identity.

One action that can be helpful is to find a supportive community, whether it's within your workplace or outside of it. Surrounding yourself with people who understand and accept your identity can give you the confidence to advocate for yourself when you need to. It's also important to remember that you have the right to set boundaries and to express your needs.

Another helpful tip is to educate others about gender-diverse identities, such as transmasculine, non-binary, genderqueer, and genderfluid, and the importance of pronouns. This can be as simple as correcting someone when they misgender you and explaining what your pronouns are. You don't have to be an expert on the topic to have these conversations, but sharing your experiences and explaining why pronouns are important can go a long way in helping others understand and respect your identity.

It's also important to take care of yourself and to know your limits. Advocating for yourself can be emotionally exhausting, so it's important to prioritize self-care and to set boundaries when you need to. This may mean taking breaks throughout the day, seeking support from loved ones, or speaking with a therapist.

Introduce yourself and ask someone their pronouns. For example, "Hi! My name is _____ and I go by she/her pronouns." This will open the conversation for the other person to share their pronouns if they wish.

Advocating for yourself as a queer person can be challenging, but it's essential for your well-being and identity. Remember that you are not alone, and there are resources and communities available to support you. By educating others and setting boundaries, you can create a workplace culture that values and respects all identities.

Using someone's correct pronouns can make a world of difference to someone who is struggling to be seen for who they are. It can make the difference between feeling like a valued member of the team or feeling like an outsider.

So, to all the employers and coworkers out there, I urge you to take the time to learn and use someone's correct pronouns. It may take some effort, but it's a small price to pay for creating a workplace where everyone feels welcome and valued.

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