When writing my last post, I was wondering how to describe the people I mentioned there. Especially considering their pronoun. You may have noticed that I referred to each of my former leaders with the pronoun “they”. Why?
First of all: Because I attended a talk in the Think About conference last year, which actually made me think: It was about diverse representation in design by the inspiring Eriol Fox. Eriol is an experienced UX designer and goes by the pronoun “they”. In their talk they shared their experience on how the people not fitting into the male or female drawer feel, when being confronted with web design options, which have no place for them (e.g. drop down menu of selecting your title only with Mr./Mrs./Ms.).
How to address different types of genders
I had not come across these thoughts beforehand, as I never had an open discussion with my friends or colleagues, if anyone prefers a pronoun other than he or she (if you are in the same situation, here are some good thoughts for binary people). But yes, it is so obvious and with that important to me, that I don’t make a difference or exclude someone unknowingly. And well, just by looking at someone and having an impression or a judgement based on their outer appearance, does not mean that you get it right. So who am I to judge or guess someone’s gender?
Second: I really don’t care about a person’s gender. When I talk for example about being a good leader, this is nothing to do with the gender of the person. It is about their capabilities, their attitude, their values.
Therefore I decided to use the pronoun “they”, no matter if I talk about someone binary or non-binary. This is actually not so easy to get used to but a good exercise to get it right also when talking to (or about) someone. So, if I may not get it right all the time, feel free to give me a hint and with that the opportunity to learn 🙂