One way to show respect for another person is to correctly use their pronouns. The Biden-Harris administration does this by asking people who wish to fill out a form on the White House website for their pronouns. The form also includes a variety of prefixes!
President Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., and Vice President Kamala D. Harris, were sworn in on January 20, 2021. That same day, the White House website updated to include gender-inclusive pronouns and prefixes. This shows that the Biden-Harris administration will respect people’s pronouns.
This may seem like a small thing to people who are cis-gender and who have grown accustomed to filling out forms (of all kinds) that only offer two choices: he/him or she/her. For people who are a transgender person, or a non-binary person – this update is very significant. I am a nonbinary person, and I see this update of pronouns as a sign that the Biden-Harris administration sees LGBTQ+ people as valid.
It should be noted that while the form offers a variety of pronouns for people to choose from – it doesn’t take anything away from cis-gender people. In other words, the pronouns he/him and she/her are still options. There is also an “other” option for people who do not feel that she/her, he/him, or they/them reflect who the person is.
I would also like to point out that filling out a form on the White House website, with “joke” pronouns meant to target and harass transgender people or nonbinary people – is a bad idea. The purpose of providing several pronoun options is to uplift and include transgender people and non-binary people.
GLAAD reported the following:
Shortly after the inauguration and swearing in of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, the White House website was updated to include gender-inclusive pronouns and prefixes. Now anyone who wants to contact the White House will see “they/them” among other pronouns in a dropdown menu, as well as an “other” option that leads to a self-declaration entry. The prefixes have been updated to include the gender-neutral “Mx.” alongside “Mr.” and “Ms.” as well.
The existence of “they/them” pronouns is not something the White House created. In 2019, Merriam-Webster updated the definition of the pronoun “they” in the following way: They – used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary.
At the time, ABC News reported:
Emily Brewster, a senior editor for Merriam-Webster, said factors like the growing practice of soliciting or giving out one’s pronouns, the growing number of people who identify as nonbinary, and the acceptance of the nonbinary “they” pronoun in a wide variety of texts all coalesced to make the new addition an obvious choice.
There is another very significant reason why it was important for the Biden-Harris administration to offer people a selection of pronouns on the White House website. The Trump-Pence administration removed every reference or mention of LGBTQ issues from the State Department’s website. On January 24, 2017, NBC News reported the following:
…On Tuesday, it appeared that nearly all mentions of the acronym “LGBT” had been taken off the State Department website (the department typically did not include the acronym’s “Q”, which is used by some – though not all – in the LGBTQ community). Entering “LGBT” into the website’s search field resulted in numerous dead links where webpages used to house information about LGBTQ Pride month, LGBTQ refugees, LGBTQ human rights issues, human trafficking of LGBTQ people and the Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons….
…In addition, to the State Department and White House removals, LGBTQ content has also been scrubbed from other federal agency websites. A report titled “Advancing LGBT Workplace Rights” was removed from the U.S. Department of Labor website, while other LGBTQ-themed webpages remained…
What followed, in August of 2017, was a Presidential Memorandum titled: “Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security”. The subject was Military Service by Transgender Individuals. In short, (then) President Trump overturned (former) President Obama’s decision to allow transgender people to openly serve in the military.
In my opinion, Trump did this out of spite. It was clear that he hated (former) President Obama. Remember the “birth certificate” lie that Trump frequently repeated? It also was a way for Trump to hurt transgender troops who were already in the military, and to make transgender people who wanted to join the military know they were not welcome.
Considering all of this, seeing the Biden-Harris administration, on its very first day in office, do a small but powerful thing that shows they will respect people’s pronouns is greatly reassuring. It provided proof that the hurtful decisions made by the Trump administration were a thing of the past.
When the pronouns (and prefixes) on the White House website were revealed, many people on Twitter applauded it. Some, however, were hesitant, fearing that it wasn’t going to lead to meaningful protections for LGBTQ+ people.
Within the first 100 days of the Biden-Harris administration, several important things occurred. President Biden issued an executive order on January 20, 2021 (the same day the pronouns on the White House website was updated) titled: “Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation“.
On January 25, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order called “Executive Order on Enabling All Qualified Americans to Serve Their Country in Uniform“. It overturned (former) President Trump’s ban on transgender troops. It also required the military to figure out the logistics of integrating transgender troops into the military.
On March 31, 2021, the Department of Defense released issuance titled: “In-Service Transition for Transgender Service Members“. It included a path for transgender troops who want to transition the ability to receive the health care that enables a person to do so. The issuance was released on Transgender Day of Visibility.
White House Website Asks For Your Pronouns is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites. If you enjoyed this blog post please consider supporting me on Ko-fi. Thank you!