In this 3-minute video Craig discusses his increasing challenge with gender identification; “Sometimes I can’t tell if someone is a man or a woman!” He wants to be politically correct AND show respect, but how? He’s got one idea. Do you agree with this approach?
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Here’s what Craig says in the video
Hi everybody! Hey it’s Craig Freshley here.
I was running a meeting the other day — standing at the front of the room calling on people — and somebody way at the back raised their hand. Button-down Oxford shirt, short trimmed hair, square glasses. Actually this person looked a lot like me. “Yes sir. Yes you. At the back, sir.” Well when the person stood up I realized that the person I had just called “sir,” was actually a woman.
It is not okay to call somebody “sir” who identifies as a women. It is not okay to call somebody “ma’am” who identifies as a man. And increasingly, this is a challenge for me as a professional meeting facilitator. Sometimes I look out at the people in my meetings, or I look at the people coming through the door into my meetings, and I can’t tell if that person identifies as a man or a woman.
And you know what? It’s okay if I can’t tell. That person is allowed to present however they want. And they are allowed to think of themselves however they want. As a professional meeting facilitator it’s important that I don’t offend that person no matter what and that I accept that person for who they are no matter what.
But I like to use the terms “sir” and “ma’am!” And why is that? I figured out that it’s not about gender identity; that is a way for me to convey respect. It’s a way, from the very start of the conversation, to say “I honor you.” There is a tone of formality and reverence and older people especially like to be called “sir” and “ma’am.”
So how can I use language that is gender-neutral and non-offensive no matter what, AND convey respect? The best I can come up with is the words: “Yes, please.” Rather than “Yes sir, yes ma’am,” “Yes, please.” “Yes, you at the back, please.”
From now on that’s what I’m going to try to do: let somebody be what ever gender they want, no matter what they look like, but also show them that I respect them as an individual and I want to hear what they have to say.
Thanks for listening everybody, regardless of what gender you are. And I hope you help your groups make good decisions!