He/She/They: Prioritizing Preferred Pronouns

Insight

He/She/They: Prioritizing Preferred Pronouns 

Pronouns

You’ve probably seen the following popping up on social media profiles or email signatures after people’s names: she/her, he/him, they/them, or even they/he or she/they. But what does it mean? 

It’s actually not that complicated! Pronouns simply replace a proper noun, or name, in conversation. Instead of saying “That’s Trevor’s coat” you could say “That’s his/her/their coat.” 

Pronouns have been deep within the ongoing conversation of gender and gender identity. Before we dive into how to correctly use preferred pronouns, let’s define the differences between sex, sexual orientation, and gender. 

Sex refers to a person's biological status and is typically assigned at birth (male, female, intersex). 

Gender is often defined as social norms, behaviors and roles that vary between societies and over time (man, woman, nonbinary). 

Sexual orientation refers to physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to members of the same and/or other genders (straight, gay, bisexual, lesbian, etc.)

See how they’re all different? It’s important to note that no matter what someone was assigned at birth (male/female/intersex), their gender identity exists separately. It’s gender identity that tends to influence pronouns.  

Pronouns & Business Travel 

Using a person's correct pronouns is a matter of respect, and organizations around the world are listening. In a landmark move, The U.S. Department of State announced that from April 11th, people seeking a U.S. passport can mark their gender as non-binary X, a huge step forward in affirming gender identity. However, the Department also leaves this sobering reminder: “While the United States Government issues passports with the X gender marker, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You may face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the X gender marker.  Before you travel, check with the foreign embassy or consulate in the United States for more information.”  

If you know your traveler has an X on their U.S. passport, you’ll want to ensure you’re sending them to locations that will honor and affirm their gender identity and not put them at an increased risk. 69 counties still have anti-LGBTQ+ laws in place, with some upholding outright bans. If you need more information on the LGBTQ+ environment in a particular country, you can check out the Country Information page on the State Department’s website:

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Gender Identity and Travel Technology 

So you know a traveler’s preferred pronouns. How do you add them to your travel tech so you make sure their gender identity is affirmed throughout the travel process? While many HRIT systems have started to include preferred pronouns in their employee profiles, it’s a bit more complicated for travel tech. 

How can the corporate travel industry work together to ensure technology can support travelers of all genders? For one thing, "the traveler profile needs to sync with other systems, like the GDS or OBT", says Michel Rouse, Chief Product Officer, FCM. "Not all GDS and OBT systems currently support X or U gender markers or non-gendered titles, which could cause a break in the connection between systems." Airlines, hotels, TMCs, and other travel organizations all need to collaborate to address the barriers to a seamless travel experience for transgender and non-binary travelers. 

The journey of affirming gender identity in travel still has a long way to go, but the first place we can start is with our tech and policies. Talk with your Account/Customer Success Managers and let them know your organization’s desire for more gender inclusivity, especially adding preferred pronouns. Now that the U.S. is accepting non-binary identifiers on passports, and more and more countries around the world adopt this change, the need for our tech and procedures to adapt is more important than ever. 

Next Steps 

There are simple things you can do to start your organization on the right path to gender equity and inclusion. Encourage employees to include preferred pronouns in their email signatures, virtual meeting profiles, and nametags at in-person events. Switch to HRIT systems that support preferred pronouns and pass out literature that helps employees and business travelers understand the importance of respecting preferred pronouns and gender identity. Together, we’ll make the business travel world an even more inclusive place. 

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