The State Services Commission is committed to diversity & inclusion. We want to acknowledge and celebrate all voices and experiences across our Public Service. Our Public Service Rainbow Communities told us through the 2019 WeCount survey how important it is for colleagues, managers and others to get pronouns and names right and that this helps create a real sense of belonging and respect in the workplace.
Pronouns are words used to refer to people (for example, she/her, he/him, or they/them). An easy way to normalise the use of pronouns is to include them in your email signature. There are a few reasons why this is beneficial:
- When cisgender people include pronouns, it normalises it for everyone and protects trans and gender diverse people when they include their pronouns.
- Having pronouns in an email signature signals you as an LGBTQIA+ ally.
Including pronouns in your email signature is a quick and easy way for cisgender people to have a powerful and positive impact. This is harder and riskier for transgender and gender diverse people because it leads to longer conversations and asks them to educate people.
How to include your pronouns:
- In your email signature, add your pronouns (she/he/they/ze/etc) after your name.
- Use a hyperlink to this webpage on the pronouns so people can learn more by clicking on them. If you have any difficulties, please contact your workplace IT department.
Other ways to be more inclusive:
- Consider starting a meeting with each attendee sharing their name and pronouns.
- Include your pronouns in your LinkedIn profile by adding them after your last name.
- Ask people politely what pronouns they use – we shouldn’t assume pronouns based on appearance, name or any other factor.
- Don’t use the term ‘preferred’ or ‘gender’ pronouns - although people often mean well when they use these terms it can imply that pronoun selection is a preference rather than a requirement and using ‘gender’ can ignore agender people.
- If you get pronouns or a name wrong, it’s good to acknowledge a mistake (privately) and try to get it right next time.
- Be an active ally and help others understand why this is important.
If you are experiencing discrimination or negativity for using your pronouns in your workplace, please contact your team leader or HR department. There are some additional resources that may help:
- State Services Commissions’ Positive and Safe Workplaces Model Standards
- State Services Commissions’ Speaking Up Model Standards
- WorkSafe’s resource page on bullying
- Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)
- Gender Minorities Aotearoa
- Need to talk? 1737, linking you to a trained counsellor
A few quick definitions:
- Agender - Someone who feels neutral towards their gender and rejects the influence of gender on their person.
- Cisgender - those who identify with the sex/gender they were assigned at birth.
- Fa’afafine - (Samoa, American Samoa, and Tokelau), Fakaleiti or Leiti (Tonga), Fakafifine (Niue), Akava’ine (Cook Islands), Māhū (Tahiti and Hawaii), Vakasalewalewa (Fiji), and Paloma (Papa New Guinea) Fa’afafine and others listed above are some Pasifika terms used to describe cultural and gender identities. They are more or just as much about familial, genealogical, social, and cultural selfhood.
- Gender diverse - A person whose gender identity or gender expression differs from a given society’s dominant gender roles. Gender diverse can refer to those who are transgender, nonbinary, genderqueer, or have other identities outside the gender binary.
- Hijra - A word used in the Indian subcontinent to describe intersex people, and transgender people. This community also use the words Kinnar or Kinner to describe themselves.
- Intersex - A term used to describe a person who may have the biological attributes of both sexes or whose biological attributes do not fit with societal assumptions about what constitutes male or female. Intersex people may identify as male, female or non-binary.
- Nonbinary - An umbrella term for people whose gender identity doesn’t sit comfortably with ‘man’ or ‘woman’. Non-binary identities are varied and can include people who identify with some aspects of binary identities, while others reject them entirely.
- Taahine - Taahine is similar to mixed gender, sometimes non-binary, or transgender not-otherwise specified. This speaks to the intersection of Māori and non-cisgender identities.
- Takatāpui - Takatāpui refers to Māori who are not heterosexual and/or not cisgender. It is used both as a gender identity (similar to transgender), as an attraction or sexual orientation (similar to lesbian, gay, bi, or pansexual). It is also used as an umbrella term for all non-heterosexual and/or non-cisgender Māori people (similar to ‘Rainbow Community)’.
- Tangata ira tane/whakatāne - Tangata ira tane roughly translates as trans man. This speaks to the intersection of both Māori and trans man identities.
- Trans/transgender - those who identify with a different sex/gender than the one they were assigned at birth.
- Two-Spirit – A term used in Native American communities which refers to a person who identifies as having both a masculine and a feminine spirit.
- Whakawahine - Whakawahine roughly translates as trans woman. More literally, it translates as being or becoming, in the manner or spirit of a woman. Many Māori trans women are whakawahine, love this term, and prefer it over transgender, transsexual, or other terms. Some Māori trans women feel that ‘whaka’ or ‘to create or become’ holds an implication that they are not women, and reject this term on that basis, often preferring Taahine or Takatāpui.