Society is starting to finally recognize that gender is a non-binary spectrum, which means that we're not relegated to just “male” or “female.” Many of us choose to identify with non-traditional pronouns, gender-neutral pronouns, multiple pronouns or no pronouns at all.
Approximately 1.4 million Americans identify as transgender, and a reported 12 percent of millennials identified as something other than male or female, according to a March 2017 study. In a 2015 national survey, some 33 percent of transgender individuals said that, if permitted the choice, they would prefer not to be assigned either gender designation.
But, when starting a new job, it can be uncomfortable to share one's pronouns with a new employer who might make assumptions or, worse, discriminate. Non-binary workers have reported feeling pressure at their jobs when it comes to their lack of gender designation — 23 percent of those polled by The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law said that they purposefully hid their non-binary status at the workplace. And, of those who chose to go public, almost 20 percent believed to have lost a job because of their status and 90 percent believed to have suffered some form of job bias, discrimination or harassment.
You may use whatever pronouns you wish. Many people use the following pronouns, according to The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center:
Some people choose to switch hir(s) and hirself with zir and zirself, as well. What does zie and zir mean? Like (f)ae and (f)aer, they are neo-pronouns, so they are gender neutral.
How to Share Your Pronouns
So how do you have that conversation with your new boss? I asked individuals who use non-traditional pronouns to share how they've shared theirs in previous jobs. Here's what they had to say.
1. Be Your Own Advocate
2. Make it Known That Your Pronouns Are Not Necessarily Just a "Preference"
3. Be Open from the Start
4. Share in Different Ways
5. Be Confident in Who You Are
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.