RE: Woke: Walmart employees can now purchase “gender identity” buttons to wear at work

Oh, pronouns. Suddenly a hot topic in the mass media because people are starting to use pronouns that go beyond “he” or “she”. Recently, Walmart, a very popular supermarket chain is now allowing employees to wear buttons that say what their pronouns are (she/her/hers, he/his/him, they/them/their for example).

Why is this important? More and more people are coming out to the world as ‘nonbinary’ (also known as “beyond the binary” and in this case it would mean “I am not cisgender” {cisgender meaning feeling comfortable with whatever the doctor said you were after you came out of your mother}). More and more people are coming out as transgender (such as transwomen and transmen) or gender-nonconforming (presenting to the world in such a way that doesn’t fit your culture’s perception of “femininity” or “masculinity”).

I am a member of the LGBTQIA community myself. When I worked in retail, I wanted to wear a pronouns pin and whenever I brought this up in a retail worker group on social media, for the most part, I was met with positive remarks like “Go for it!” or “Proud!”. The minority would write things like “oh my God!” or “shaking my dang head” (replace dang with a curse word).

Pronouns are important. In fact, we have been using ‘they/them/their’ since at least Shakespearian times. I’m thinking specifically of the example found in A Comedy of Errors, Act IV, Scene 3. It is at the very beginning of this scene, spoken by Antipholus of Syracuse. This character says “There’s not a man I meet but doth salute me / As if I were their well-acquainted friend”. Despite being aware that the person they are talking about is a man, they specifically state “They” instead of what we could consider masculine pronouns “he/his/him”.

If you’d like a more modern example, here is one. “Morgan went to the store. They wanted to pick up some bread.” We use phrases like this all of the time in the real world. Yet when people specifically ask that we use one set of pronouns (feminine vs masculine vs neutral), for some reason people suddenly start losing their minds.

While we do have more “exotic” pronouns in existence (ve, xe, za, etc.) very few people use these because they understand that overall it is going to take a very large transition period (I mean, we are still having people flip out over people using ‘they/them/their’). First, we need to focus on society overall being comfortable with ‘they/them/their’ before we can even hope for them to get on board with even more ‘exotic’ terms.

It cost nothing to be kind to someone and only takes seconds to ask “what would you prefer me to use for pronouns?”. Most people are more than happy to tell you. When in doubt use they/them/their since it’s considered relatively safe. Never use “it” since most people find this incredibly offensive and dehumanizing.

Just be kind and respectful, sincerely your friendly neighborhood nonbinary girl who prefers “they/them/their” but tolerates “she/her/hers” in the real world!

I’m a queer adopted healthcare worker who writers in their spare time. I have a MPH degree.