A new normal question

I do not want to get caught in an awkward situation with my coworkers, and I want to be as cool about this as possible without giving into my white baby boomer conservative upbringing.

In a recent Zoom meeting, my coworker Kristin had “she/her” on her Zoom ID. WHAT THE HECK DOES THIS MEAN??? I’ve always assumed she was a girl. I’ll go on assuming she’s a girl. I will never ask her about it. But why did she add that? Help me be cool, social experts.

It is becoming more common for people to list their preferred pronouns on social media platforms. Many of us do so here on the Straight Dope.

If you click someone’s Avatar, it will bring up info about them that they provided and you’ll see if they listed preferred pronouns. (Also location quite often.)

Providing others with an indicator of your preferred pronouns (such as in email signatures, and in one’s Zoom ID) has become more common in the past year or two, as a recognition of transgender and nonbinary individuals whose preferred pronouns may not match what people assume them to be.

Even people who are cisgender may choose to specifically provide this information in support of their transgender and nonbinary friends and colleagues, and in an effort to make providing such information more common.

Here’s an 82 post thread from a couple months ago on just this topic:

Not the same topic. My question in that thread was specifically about “she/they” or “he/they”. I’ve never had a problem understanding what “she/her” means.

Powers &8^]

OK, would it be fair to assume “she/her” means transgender? Would a straight person ever consider using that, other than to distinguish gender neutral names such as Pat and Chris?

No, because a lot of people who support trans people have also chosen to show their pronouns, to make it more normal. So the most you can assume is that the person supports trans rights.

(Trans rights are human rights.) – a bit more obvious tell.

This. I’m a cisgender male, have always identified as male, and have a first name which is nearly always used by men. Nonetheless, I added “he/him” to the signature line on my email at work, because I want to be supportive of my transgender and nonbinary friends and colleagues.

I’m a cisgender male, and I support the LGBTQ community.

You may have seen on the news that Megan Rohrer (they/them) was just elected to be the Bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod of the ELCA Lutheran Church. Well, that is my synod. My church belongs to the SPSELCA.

This has unfortunately caused significant consternation among some key people in my congregation. Just tonight our congregation president resigned over this news.

Unfortunate. Some people aren’t as enlightened as I’d like.

So my coworker is either trans or a trans supporter? This is the type of mistake I don’t want to make. Yes, I know, be courteous whatever the case may be, but I’ve gotten called out for this type of faux pas before because my caveman brain took over for a second.

Not necessarily. She may be a supporter. She may also just be using the pronouns because she sees others doing it.

I’ve considered using the pronouns but I haven’t yet. And I’m a trans supporter.

But it doesn’t matter what she is. She’s advertising that people should use feminine pronouns when talking about her, so just use “she” and “her” like you’ve been doing and don’t worry about anything else.

Powers &8^]

Why does it matter to you which it is?

It’s not, in a work context (or in most personal contexts, either), any business of yours whether a co-worker is trans or not; there is no way in which it should affect your treatment of that person. So the only thing you could make a mistake about is which pronouns to use – and it doesn’t seem likely that you’re worried about that in this case.

Not really. The overall topic of this thread is “What the heck is this new thing about pronouns in contact info?” Regardless of what those pronouns are.

The specific question in your OP may have been more specific about gendered plus non-gendered pronouns. But the other 81 posts ranged quite widely over the general state of pronouns, transgender support, and all the rest of the loosely allied issues.

All of which I thought would be useful background for the OP, whose
post pretty well stated that he was clueless about all this new-fangled stuff.

Or at least how that’s I took it.