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!
- The individual is thinking about how to be inclusive…
- …for a situation that hasn’t happened yet…
- …with a person they may not know very well…
- …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?