(US Air Force Press Release) A recent update to the Department of the Air Force writing guide, The Tongue and Quill, now allows Airmen and Guardians to include pronouns in their signature block.
The Tongue and Quill provides formatting standards and guidelines for a number of official documents, including email, memoranda, letters and papers.
“An inclusive force is a mission-ready force, and I’m thankful to the LGBTQ Initiatives Team for helping us realize this opportunity to be a more inclusive force,” said Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones.
The LGBTQ Initiatives Team, or LIT, a part of the Department of the Air Force Barrier Analysis Working Group, advocated for this change, one of the latest initiatives the DAF undertook to address barriers to service and promote a more inclusive culture.
“The change request was driven by awareness of a restrictive policy that was being used against transgender Airmen and Guardians who were authentically representing themselves,” said Lt. Col. Bree Fram, a LIT Transgender Policy Team co-lead. “It was also important for many individuals often confused as being a different gender in their communications.”
This effort was led by the LIT, with support from the Pacific Islander/Asian American Community Team, and the Women’s Initiatives Team, other teams of the DAFBAWG.
Master Sgt. Jamie Hash, the other LIT Transgender Policy Team co-lead, also explained that the explicit permission to use pronouns, a practice that is now common in the civilian sector, gets the DAF further down the road of explicitly acknowledging the existence and dignity of non-binary military members and civilians. She added that this change eliminates confusion for people with non-Anglo/Western or gender-neutral names.
“The LIT provided an opportunity to streamline the process for this change,” Hash said, explaining that this change was a request she started from her installation’s Diversity and Inclusion committee. “It is an example of how the DAFBAWG teams are addressing barriers, collaborating, and executing solutions in ways that have not been seen before to help Airmen and Guardians thrive.”
Official signature blocks should include name, rank, service affiliation, duty title, organization name, phone numbers and social media contact information. Pronouns such as he/him, she/her, or they/them are now authorized but not required. An example is:
ANGEL ALONSO, Capt, USAF (he/him/his)
Occupational Therapy Element Leader
48th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron
RAF Lakenheath, UK
Pronouns can be placed immediately after the name in parentheses or on separate lines within the signature block.
“A foundational competency of the DAF is to foster inclusion,” Fram said. “The use of correct pronouns is an easy way to show care and respect for Airmen and Guardians as individuals, and can help the DAF retain highly qualified individuals. Allowing pronouns in an individual’s signature block is a quick and simple way to eliminate confusion and promote a more inclusive culture.”
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