Story Time Series - Coming Out at Work

Welcome to the start of our Story Time Series! We will be posting these twice a month sharing situations that happen in our lives and tips on navigating difficult or awkward situations. We want to provide updated information, so what we share will be fresh news!


This is our opinion on the usage of pronouns. Please note that not everyone will share the same opinion. We are not policing the use of pronouns and neither should you.



Let's talk about disability and gender. This is an intersectionality that is becoming widely understood as studies and advocates speak on this. We will discuss this more in-depth in a future blog. However, for now, we just want to share our story and what helped us come out in the workplace.


Now, we will start by disclosing some things about us. We are identified as Non-binary Queer and use they/them and plural pronouns. An interesting fact about us is that the reason we use plural pronouns is not that we are NB, but because of our dissociative identity disorder.


If you would like to learn more about our D.I.D check out the guest blog we did at Mental Health Talk to share some of our story. Living the Lives of many:: Our journey with Dissociative Identity Disorder



We recently came out completely at work! We began our social transition last year, and really, work was the last place on our list. It was last because it was honestly the most stressful. It is difficult to come out at a job especially when you don’t know people’s reactions. For example, at school, we came out and it completely changed the way we are treated in online classes. We also make sure to introduce ourselves with the proper pronouns. We were met with hostility from some classmates refusing to use our pronouns and a professor that said we couldn’t use our pronouns in class. We feared this same reaction at work.


One day, we were working with a client and they noticed our name change on our LinkedIn profile. It was absolutely amazing for someone to notice and to bring it up. This person wanted to call us by our name and not our dead name. It was so empowering that this individual took the time to notice and then make the change. This was the first motivator for us in coming out at work.


After that, another positive experience happened. Our supervisor noticed as well and brought it up. We were in shock to have such a positive reaction. That day, we made a post in the group chat and felt nothing but love and acceptance from coworkers! It was the best possible outcome.


Pronoun Challenges

Let’s be honest, navigating pronouns can be overwhelming. We use NB pronouns and we will even sometimes miss the pronoun train. It is human nature, so all we can do is be patient with ourselves and others. We tell people to try their best when using our pronouns and we don’t get upset when we are misgendered, because it is impossible to avoid human error.


That being said, here are some pronoun tips we found helpful!


Third-person usage….


When interacting with they/them/their pronouns, remember you are still talking to a person. You can say “you” when addressing the person.


For example, if you are writing a message to someone you can say


Do

“Hey, I was wondering if you can take care of xyz..”


Don’t

Hey, I was wondering if they can take care of xyz…”


Do

Are you available for a meeting at 11am?


Don’t

Are they available for a meeting at 11am?


It is important to remember you are still talking to a person. Pronouns do not change the way you speak 1:1 in conversation. Please note: this is our personal opinion and it is important to remember that some may have a different view. Please respect that.


When to use they/them…


When you are in a group it is important to use the right pronouns


Do

Okay, so this project is done. They will have the updates for us next week.


Don’t

Okay, so this project is done. She/He will have the updates for us next week


When speaking with others or drafting emails/messages...


Do

They are really great to work with.


Don’t

She/He is really great to work with.



The Elephant in the Room


Pronouns are not a minefield. It is okay to feel awkward. It is normal. However, it is not an earth-shattering issue for us if you slip up from time to time. There are certain things to avoid thought especially in a group setting…



Do

I would like to introduce our new teammate! (Allow the person to introduce themself and share their pronouns if they wish)


Don’t


I would like to introduce our new teammate, they go by they/them pronouns because they are nonbinary.


Also, you don’t need to apologize every time you slip up. The thing that matters is you are trying to use the correct pronouns and show that we are a valued member of the project.


We are only offended by intentionally misgendering or refusal to use our pronouns.



Navigating Implicit/Explicit Bias


Do you feel uncomfortable using a person's pronouns? Well, this is something you should explore. Everyone has unconscious bias and being self-aware so you can correct this in the workplace is vital.


A person's pronouns do not impact the way they perform their job.


This may sound harsh, but leave your opinion at the door. This is about respectfully accepting the other person's wishes and working cohesively as a team. A job well done is the end goal, so acceptance of this diversity in your team should be a high priority.


Thank you for joining us for our first Story Time! We look forward to sharing our journey with you and hearing your thoughts...leave a comment below.



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