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Air Force, Space Force now allows gender pronouns in official documents, emails

Ohio National Guard Airmen during change of command ceremony at Mansfield Lahm ANGB, Ohio, Dec. 3, 2021. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Joe Harwood)
January 11, 2022

The Department of the Air Force updated its guidelines on written documents last month, allowing Air Force Airmen and Space Force Guardians to include their personal gender pronouns in email signature blocks, memoranda, letters and papers.

The Air Force announced the updated guidance in a Dec. 20 press release. The new guidelines on personal pronouns will also be included in the Department of the Air Force writing guide, “The Tongue and Quill.”

“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,” Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones said upon announcing the change.

The Air Force’s LGBTQ Initiatives Team (LIT) advocated for the inclusion of pronouns, which it said would promote “a more inclusive culture” within the service branches.

LIT is a part of the Department of the Air Force Barrier Analysis Working Group (DAFBAWG). LIT formally started in April of last year.

“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,” Lt. Col. Bree Fram, a LIT Transgender Policy Team co-lead said of the policy change. “It was also important for many individuals often confused as being a different gender in their communications.”

Master Sgt. Jamie Hash, the other LIT Transgender Policy Team co-lead, also said giving explicit permission to use pronouns is a practice that is now common in the civilian world. Hash said the new policy moves the Department of the Air Force further towards “explicitly acknowledging the existence and dignity of non-binary military members and civilians.” She also said the policy would be helpful for people with non-Anglo/Western or gender-neutral names.

Hash said the effort to allow pronouns in email signatures and other official documents began after she made the request at her installation’s Diversity and Inclusion committee.

“The LIT provided an opportunity to streamline the process for this change,” Hash said. “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.”

The new Air Force policy has already been criticized by one Republican lawmaker as infiltration of “Progressive Left” ideas within the military.

On Dec. 18, after viewing early notes of the new Air Force policy, Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC) tweeted, “Unbelievable. The Progressive Left has infiltrated our military. Shouldn’t we be worried about military preparedness rather than pronouns? China and Russia are laughing at this.”

The Air Force’s decision to allow personal pronouns came nearly a year after President Joe Biden ordered a reversal of policies brought by President Donald Trump to restrict transgendered individuals from serving in the military.