What’s trending – Neopronouns
Recently, pronouns that indicate trans, gender non-conforming, and non-binary identities – often the singular “they” and “them” – have become more accepted. Furthermore neopronouns are increasingly being used in place of “she,” “he,” or “they” when referring to a person. Some examples include xe/xem/xyr, ze/hir/hirs, and ey/em/eir. They can be used by anyone, though most often they are used by transgender, non-binary, or gender nonconforming people. The American Medical Association (AMA) called for gender to be removed as a legal designation on the public part of birth certificates. We’ve been tracking gender identity for a few years now from the London underground getting rid of “ladies and gentlemen” announcements to Japan Airlines moving to gender neutral greetings. South Africa has its first transgender contestant in the Miss South Africa national beauty pageant, 24-year-old, Lehlogonolo Machaba.
Why is it important?
While the South African Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender and sexual orientation, discrimination is still taking place and in many instances, taking the form of microaggression. Identity politics have become more important and in particular gender identity. This has made its way into the workplace where employees increasingly insist that their gender identity be acknowledged. This makes it complicated for businesses.
What can businesses do about it?
Can employers ask employees to declare their sexual orientation, for example? What about medical insurance for gender reassignment surgery? How employees are addressed by colleagues, the HR forms that they need to fill in, and what restrooms to use: companies need to take heed of all these gender-related concerns. Companies could request that employees declare their preferred pronouns for conference calls for example. Businesses would do well to consult with LGBTQI+ and labour law experts on handling this sensitive issue. This is not something to be ignored because gender non-conforming employees are already part of your workforce. According to the Pew Research Center, 42 percent of Americans know someone who’s transgender and 26 percent of Americans say they know someone who uses non-binary gender pronouns. Education is key. Raising awareness on the diversity of gender and sexual orientation could go a long way towards decreasing the discrimination felt by non-cisgender employees.
By Faeeza Khan
Image credit: Katie Rainbow