He/She/They: Prioritizing Preferred Pronouns

colourful blocks with pronouns

He/She/They: Prioritizing Preferred Pronouns 


You’ve probably seen pronouns popping up on social media profiles or email signatures after people’s name. They look like: she/her, he/him, they/them, or even they/he or she/they.

But what does it mean? 

It’s really not that complicated. Pronouns simply replace a proper noun, or name, in conversation. So, instead of saying “That’s Cameron’s coat” you could say “That’s his/her/their coat.” 

Pronouns have part of the ongoing conversation of gender and gender identity. But, before we dive into how to use preferred pronouns correctly, let’s dive into the differences between sex, sexual orientation, and gender. 

Sex refers to a person's biological status and is typically assigned at birth (male, female, intersex). 

Gender is often defined as a social construct of norms, behaviors and roles that varies between societies and over time (man, woman, nonbinary). 

Sexual orientation refers to physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to members of the same and/or other genders (straight, gay, bisexual, lesbian, etc.) 

See how they’re all different? We should note that no matter what someone was assigned at birth (male/female/intersex), their gender identity exists separately. It’s gender identity that tends to influence pronouns.  

Pronouns & Business Travel 

Using a person's correct pronouns shows respect, and organizations around the world are listening. Just this year, the U.S. Department of State announced that from April 11th, people applying for a U.S. passport can mark their gender as non-binary X. This is a huge step forward in affirming gender identity. All celebration aside, they also left this reminder: “While the United States Government issues passports with the X gender marker, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You may face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the X gender marker.  Before you travel, check with the foreign embassy or consulate in the United States for more information.”  

If you know your traveler has an X on their U.S. passport, you’ll want to make sure you’re sending them to locations that will honor and affirm their gender identity and not put them at an increased risk. A shocking 69 countries still have anti-LGBTQ+ laws in place, with some upholding outright bans. Need more info on the LGBTQ+ environment in a particular country? Check out the Country Information page on the State Department’s website.

Gender Identity and Travel Tech 

So you know a traveler's preferred pronouns, but how do you add them to your travel tech to make sure their gender identity is affirmed throughout the travel process? While many HRIT systems have started to include preferred pronouns in their employee profiles, it’s a bit more complicated in the travel space.   

How can the corporate travel industry work together to make sure tech can support travelers of all genders? The traveler profile needs to sync with other systems, like the GDS or online booking tool. Not all GDS and OBT systems currently support X or U gender markers or non-gendered titles, which could cause a break in the connection between systems. Airlines, hotels, TMCs and other travel organizations all need to collaborate to address the barriers to a seamless travel experience for transgender and non-binary travelers.  

The journey of affirming gender identity in travel still has a long way to go, but the first place we can start is with our tech and policies. Chat with your Account/Customer Success Managers and let them know gender inclusivity is a priority, especially adding preferred pronouns. Now that the US is accepting unspecified or another gender identity on passports, and more and more countries around the world adopt this change, the tech and procedures need to catch up.

Where to go from here 

There are simple things you can do to jumpstart your company’s path to gender equity and inclusion. Encourage your team to include their preferred pronouns in email signatures, virtual meeting profiles, and nametags at events. Make the switch to HRIT systems that support preferred pronouns and hand out information that helps your team and travelers understand the importance of respecting preferred pronouns and gender identity. Together, we can make the business travel world an even more inclusive place.