July 25, 2023 ·

Pronouns in SLAC forms and systems

**Update: As of August 26, 2023, the SLAC ID badge request form has been revised to include Male, Female, Non-binary, and Decline to identify.**

There are five core values at SLAC - excellence, integrity, collaboration, creativity, respect - and there are many ways we can put these into practice. One way is creating a welcoming environment for all, and to do this, we believe we must not only embrace individual differences with words but with actions. 

Part of our ERG's mission is to work with senior leaders and members of Human Resources to develop strategies for further awareness and resolution to issues the LGBTQ+ community faces. One of the issues we've been working on is to help create a more inclusive environment at SLAC by adding more gender pronoun options to various forms and systems.

For some context - the English language has evolved over the years to reflect societal changes, and will probably continue to do so. For example, prior to the Victorian era (around 1820-1914), it was common to use "they/them" to talk about someone when their gender was unknown or irrelevant. Then, there was a shift to using "he/him/his" as all-encompassing pronouns. After the Feminist movements in the early 1900s, there was another shift to using things like "his/hers" or "s/he" to indicate inclusivity. Now, as our society continues to change, we return to using "they/them" to refer to everyone, however they identify.

While these efforts toward making pronouns more inclusive may at times seem small, confusing, or unimportant to some people, we should remember that pronouns are tied to binary genders and are a common form of mis-gendering for trans and non-binary people. What may seem like a small detail may be very important to someone, and our values of integrity, respect, and excellence align with this effort to change our practices.*

Pronouns in SLAC forms and systems

SLAC staff and visitors are often asked to identify their gender and are categorized by their gender, sometimes even before their first visit to the lab. Working with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Office, Human Resources, and Environment, Safety & Health (ES&H), we are making progress toward moving away from the gender binary - choosing between only male or female - on forms and systems

Where progress has been made

  • Some site access forms, used by people coming on site who do not have a SLAC badge (new employees, interns, users, etc.), previously included “Decline to identify,” “Male,” “Female,” and “Unknown.” As of February 2023, instead of the “Unknown” option, it now includes “Non-binary.”
  • Performance evaluation: The annual performance review process includes an email to managers that previously read “(EMPLOYEE NAME) has completed his/her self-review.” As of 2022, it reads “(EMPLOYEE NAME) has completed their self-review.”

Where progress is pending 

  • SLAC badge request form: Most people working at SLAC, including temporary workers, contractors and users, must complete an ID request form. Both versions of the form (A and B) only include “Male” and “Female” options. The SLAC ES&H Radiation Protection group is actively pursuing options for adding more pronouns. In the meantime, this section of the form can be skipped, so if you know someone, like a new staff member who identifies as non-binary, applying for a SLAC badge please let them know they do not need to select a gender on this form. 

Where progress is on hold 

  • Employment and internship applications: SLAC’s employment application only includes “Decline to identify,” “Male,” “Female,” and “Unknown.” The internship application only includes “Decline to identify,” “Male,” and “Female.” For most programs SLAC must use the government-required options for reporting purposes, but Human Resources is hopeful that we will be able to include “Non-binary” in the future. 

 Where more progress is needed

  • Preferred pronouns on SLAC badges: community members have expressed interest in creating an option to add pronouns to SLAC badges, and this has been added to the list of things to explore in the future. 
  • Let us know! Have you encountered forms, websites or other systems that include only “Male” or “Female” options? Send us an email at lgbtq_erg_council@slac.stanford.edu or reach out on the #lgbtq-erg Slack channel 


*Background information was pulled from these websites:
Source 1
Source 2
There are many resources available online for anyone who is interested in learning more about this topic. Also, check out our blog post “Are your pronouns IDK/HUH?"

By shirin@slac.st…


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