Why do we include pronouns in our email signatures?
JustLeadershipUSA is an organization led by people who have been directly impacted by mass incarceration pursuing a bold vision: to cut the U.S. correctional population in half by the year 2030.
While systems of mass criminalization have swept up breathtaking numbers of people, they do not have uniform impact. Black and brown communities, low-income people, immigrants, and LGBTQ people are specifically targeted and suffer far higher rates of incarceration. Recognizing that racism, economic injustice, homophobia, and transphobia underlie hyper-incarceration, we look to dismantle these systems and build the power of those most directly impacted.
Gender pronouns are a small, daily way we do this. Just as we learn each other’s names as a basic sign of respect, we learn and use the gender pronouns each of us prefer. By naming our gender pronouns in our email signatures, in meetings, and in other spaces, we let each other know how to call us. By doing so, we recognize our individual and collective humanity in the face of dehumanizing carceral systems.
Prison has many practices of dehumanization. An essential one is stripping our names and identities, reducing us to numbers. Everyday, we fight these practices – calling each other by our chosen names and chosen pronouns.