Dear USG Friends,
What does it take to be a warmly welcoming community? Many times the answers come from our own stories. At least at two key periods of my life I spent significant time away from Unitarian Universalism. Both times when I came back I was feeling down or lost in life. I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere, much less in a church. However, in both experiences the people of those churches were very warm and welcoming. Church helped me – once again – to figure out who I am. And church accepted me.
Beloved community welcomes, accepts and honors people as they are. In our USG efforts to be truly welcoming, we are making a new effort. On our nametags, we are offering people the chance to indicate by which pronouns they prefer to be addressed. For example, I am choosing for my nametag: Kent Matthies – he, him, his.
Why is this important? Within many places in society, people who are gender-fluid or transgender experience painful discrimination. Assuming other people’s gender identification is too often unhelpful or hurtful. When we allow people to identify their own gender pronouns, we can reduce awkward situations. More importantly, we can directly increase the respect we show one another with our words and actions. We can increase our capacity to welcome and honor each other for who we are.
Here are other reasons folks have decided to share their preferred pronouns on their USG nametags and elsewhere.
- I share mine because I don’t want anyone to feel unsafe or unwelcome and I think this helps.
- I think that sharing my pronouns helps everyone feel included and respected.
- Sharing my pronouns helps make USG a more welcoming place for people of all genders.
- I want to make sure that everyone gets my name and pronouns right every time; I also want to make sure I get everyone else’s right, too.
- I believe it’s more respectful not to assume someone’s gender based on how I think they look. I’m sharing mine so that you won’t have to assume either.
- I share mine because I am an active ally.
(adapted from fyp.washington.edu/dandi/pronoun-buttons/ )
Thanks so much to Treva Burger and Eric Foster of the Welcoming Team and our Welcoming Congregation Team (focused on LGBTQ inclusivity), which is spearheading this initiative. If you want to participate, there are stickers with she/her/hers, he/him/his and they/them/theirs at the Welcome Table. Someone there can also help you fill out the form for your name tag if you prefer any other pronouns.
Our mission is “Building Beloved Community with compassion, service and empowerment.” How beautiful –and perhaps delightful- that something so simple as a nametag can tangibly and powerfully help us to live out this mission one day at a time!