If You're Upset About Halifax's Pronoun Badges, You Are The Problem

·4 min read
Halifax's new name badges for staff (Photo: HalifaxBank on Twitter)
Halifax's new name badges for staff (Photo: HalifaxBank on Twitter)

Halifax's new name badges for staff (Photo: HalifaxBank on Twitter)

Halifax announced this week that it was going to offer to put employees’ pronouns on their name badges.

Adding the caption, “Pronouns matter. #ItsAPeopleThing,” Halifax made the announcement on Twitter on Tuesday – and it immediately started trending.

While it’s not the first major company to do so, the small announcement – which was accompanied by a photo of a badge reading “Gemma (she/her/hers) – triggered significant backlash from some less than enthusiastic customers.

The conversation around people’s pronouns has become one of the main topics of contention when it comes to trans issues, despite it being a simple gesture of inclusivity.

Pronouns, the word used to refer to someone or to a group of people, can be used to misgender someone (where you assume the wrong gender identity) if used incorrectly.

The tweet triggered accusations of “woke virtue signalling”, and threats from angry customers who were considering closing their accounts because the bank was supposedly trying to impose a different world view on them.

Fortunately, not everyone reacted like that.

Pronouns are, of course, important to many people, as some tweets were quick to point out.

But, at the end of the day, this debate can be boiled down to name badges – so the online reaction from critics does seem a little out of proportion...

And, including your pronouns is still optional for Halifax staff – meaning the new policy is not being forced on anyone.

At least a few people managed to maintain a sense of perspective and point out there were far more important things to be worrying about right now.

Luckily, the bank was unperturbed by the reaction.

Replying on Twitter to the angry customers, it replied: “We strive for inclusion, equality and quite simply, in doing what’s right. If you disagree with our values, you’re welcome to close your account.”

Halifax echoed this sentiment in a later statement, explaining: “We want to create a safe and accepting environment that opens the conversation around gender identity.

“We care about our customers’ and colleagues’ individual preferences so, for us, it’s a very simple solution to accidental mis-gendering.”

Halifax was backed by rival HSBC too, who tweeted that it was a “positive step forward for equality and inclusion”.

Professor Bobby Duffy from King’s College London told the BBC the whole fiasco was a typical indication of the “culture war” debate, particularly because there was an “utter lack of understanding of the other side’s perspective and deep suspicion of their motives”.

It’s not a big deal to display pronouns. But getting them right is.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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