If you are a woman in business and want to share your business story, then share it with us here and get featured!

Why It’s Essential We Specify Our Pronouns On LinkedIn As Cis Gendered Allies!

By specifying gender pronouns, cis-allies do exactly what Mariam did when she marked an “X” on every door- they make it harder to mark out transgender and non-binary/ gender queer persons who are often the target of hate based violence.

I added my preferred gender pronouns (she/ her) to my bio a couple of a couple of years back.

Adding it on Twitter didn’t require much thought. I wanted to show solidarity with non-binary and transgender persons, and this is an easy way to do so. Yes, adding “she/ her” to my bio opens me up to attack from bigots who want the entire world to be as straight as they think they are, but isn’t that the least one can do if one considers oneself an ally?

Adding gender pronouns to my LinkedIn profile took a little more doing. LinkedIn reflects my professional identity and one tries to keep one’s personal views/ politics out of the professional space. As a cis-het woman who’s gender identity was never in question, would adding gender pronouns to my name seem like virtue signalling?

That is when I realised that I need to do more research into the genesis of adding gender pronouns to names.

To step back a bit… let’s understand how gender works

We have all grown up thinking that sex and gender are the same. But they are not.

Sex is what is assigned to you at birth based on your physiological characteristics, including your sexual organs and chromosome composition.

Gender is what you identify as, regardless of what sex was assigned to you at birth. Gender is a social construct, and your often develop your gender identity and gender expression in response to your environment.

There are transgender people whose gender may be different to the sex assigned at birth.

Never miss real stories from India's women.

Register Now

Gender, unlike sex, is non binary. There are non-binary/gender queer people who may not identify as either male or female.

The gender pronoun of a transgender or non-binary/ gender queer person may not be obvious just by looking at them, which is why, to avoid being misgendered, they specify their preferred gender pronouns.

While using gender pronouns people normally state the subject and object pronouns (he/him, she/her, they/them), although sometimes, the possessive pronouns are also stated (she/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/theirs). People who use multiple pronouns either interchangeably or depending on the context may also list both pronouns- she/ they or he/ they.

It is important for transgender and non-binary/ gender queer persons to be referred to by their self-identified names and their preferred gender pronouns. Being misgendered and/or misnamed would make the person feel disrespected and invalidated, and this can have severe consequences on their mental health. Specifying gender pronouns can reduce unintentional misgendering.

But why should cis gendered allies add their pronouns too?

We now understand why transgender persons and non-binary/ gender queer persons try to avoid misgendering and its consequences by specifying their preferred gender pronouns. But why should a cis-ally whose gender is “obvious” specify their gender pronouns on social media handles?

At the most basic level, adding preferred gender pronouns is a way to display a symbolic solidarity. It is a way of telling transgender and non-binary/ gender queer people that they have our support, that they are normal.

This, however, is not the only reason. And that is where the story from Arabian Nights comes in.

We have all heard the story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. In this story, when the thieves realise that Ali Baba has discovered the location of their cave, they mark a “X” on his door, so they can come back at night and kill him. The loyal slave, Mariam, sees the mark, and foils the plan by putting identical “X” marks on all the doors in the neighbourhood.

By specifying gender pronouns, cis-allies do exactly what Mariam did when she marked an “X” on every door- they make it harder to mark out transgender and non-binary/ gender queer persons who are often the target of hate based violence. While by specifying their gender pronouns, they avoid being misgendered, this also makes them more visible as “different” and therefore more vulnerable to hate. By specifying their gender pronouns, cis people help to remove the stigma of “otherness” and help create a more inclusive community, while making it harder to identify a transgender or non-binary/ gender queer person if they don’t want to stand out.

Putting our pronouns in the bio is a small thing we can do to make non-binary and transgender people feel more accepted, and to destroy myths around gender identity.

June is #PrideMonth. Let us do our bit.

Artísanté chocolates – an EXCLUSIVE range of fine gourmet chocolates – are #CelebratingTheRainbow with us this year. The first 10 submissions selected by our editors as featured entries get a gift coupon of Rs. 1,000 each from Artísanté. You can also get a FLAT 20% discount on purchasing from Artísanté: Use discount code PRIDE20.

Do you have a work-place story as rainbow sheep? Let us know!

Liked this post?

Join the 100000 women at Women's Web who get our weekly mailer and never miss out on our events, contests & best reads - you can also start sharing your own ideas and experiences with thousands of other women here!


About the Author

Natasha Ramarathnam

Natasha works in the development sector, where most of her experience has been in Education and Livelihoods. She is passionate about working towards gender equity, sustainability and positive climate action. And avid reader and occasional read more...

82 Posts | 88,228 Views

Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!

All Categories