“Don’t I know you?” A lesson in inclusion

A fantastic question landed in my inbox, and I wanted to share it with you.

“If I run into someone I know, presenting in a different gender outside of work, how should I handle that? Do I acknowledge that I recognize them? If so, do I use the name I know them as, or do I ask for a different name?”

Before we get to my answer, let’s think about how thoughtful this question is!

  1. The individual is thinking about how to be inclusive…
  2. …for a situation that hasn’t happened yet…
  3. …with a person they may not know very well…
  4. …and is obviously stretching outside their own comfort zone.

Kudos to this aspiring ally!

There are so many implications wrapped up in this question. I have to admit, this one was a challenge.

So, What Was My Answer?

I would say, “You look familiar to me, but I don’t believe we’ve officially met. My name is Amy,” and extend my arm for a handshake.

Fellow Diversity Expert Elise James DeCruise suggests adding, “My pronouns are…” as a way to be even more inclusive. I love this extra step and appreciate Elise pushing me forward.

What’s Your Experience?

A few years ago, I found myself in this exact situation. Sadly, I was completely unprepared for it. But I’ll be ready for next time!

Cis folks: What would you say? Have you ever encountered this?

Trans and non-binary friends: Can you guide us to a more productive response?


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