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Air Force authorizes use of gender pronouns in official correspondence

Uniform of the United States Air Force
Uniform of the United States Air Force | Shutterstock

December 23, 2021 8:43pm

Updated: December 24, 2021 11:50pm

Members of the Air Force and Space Force may now tell others what pronouns they use in official correspondence under a new diversity policy change.

The Department of the Air Force announced it would begin allowing its members to list the pronouns they prefer, such as he/him, she/her, and they/them, in the “signature block” on official emails and social media posts, which usually lists other identifying information like name, rank, service affiliation, and social media contacts.

“Do not add slogans, quotes or other personalization to an official e-mail/social media signature block,” the authorizing document reads in part. “The use of pronouns (he/him, she/her, or they/them) in an email signature block is authorized but not required.”

The change to the Air Force’s official style guide was spearheaded by the Air Force’s LGBTQ Initiatives Team (LIT), which argued the change would result in a “more inclusive force.” Pronouns have been promoted by transgender advocates who do not want to be forced to use a gendered pronoun they feel does not reflect their true identity.

“An inclusive force is a mission-ready force,” said Undersecretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones.

Senior Air Force officials said the earlier, more traditional policy was being used against transgender members of the Air Force and Space Force who were “authentically representing themselves.”

Critics of the move worry the time and resources spent on diversity policies would be better spent on recruitment and mission readiness.  Advocates say the change can help the Air Force with retention.