PRIDE MONTH: Here’s How the Navy Is Training Sailors on Proper Gender Pronouns

PRIDE MONTH: Here’s How the Navy Is Training Sailors on Proper Gender Pronouns

The Navy is training its members to create a “safe space” by using proper gender pronouns in a new instructional video modeled after a children’s show.

“Hi! My name is Jony, and I use he/him pronouns,” Naval Undersea Warfare Center engineer Jony Rozon, who sports a rainbow-colored t-shirt, states in the video’s opening.

The official training video is meant to emphasize “the importance of using correct pronouns as well as polite etiquette when you may not be sure of someone’s pronouns,” according to the Navy, which late last month published the video online. The Defense Visual Information Distribution Service touts the video as an “official U.S. Navy video” posted by Air Force staff sergeant John Vannucci.

The video is the latest bid by the military to foster a more sensitive environment for its members and staff. The Army mandates similar gender identity training and trains officers on when to offer subordinates gender-transition surgery, the Washington Free Beacon reported in March. These programs are part of a larger push by the Biden administration to make the military more welcoming to transgender individuals.

The nearly four-minute Navy video emphasizes how members can create “a safe space” for their colleagues by using “inclusive language” that signals they are “allies” who “accept everybody.” Service members must take these steps to ensure they do not “misgender someone.” The Navy also warns staff against pressuring an individual to disclose his or her gender pronouns, saying that colleagues may still be in “the process of discovery” and not yet ready to provide this information.

“A pronoun is how we identify ourselves apart from our name, and it’s also how people refer to us in conversations,” notes engineer Conchy Vasquez, who hosts the video along with Rozon.

“Using the right pronouns is a really simple way to affirm someone’s identity. It is a signal of acceptance and respect,” adds Rozon.

The hosts go on to discuss how Navy members can create “a safe space for everybody” through the use of proper gender pronouns.

“Instead of saying something like ‘Hey guys,’ you can say, ‘Hey everyone,’ or ‘Hey team,'” Rozon says.

“Another way that we could show that we’re allies and that we accept everybody is to maybe include our pronouns in our emails or, like we just did, introduce ourselves using our pronouns,” Vasquez says.

Navy members are warned against pressuring colleagues to provide their gender pronouns.

“Some people may be going through the process of discovery, and they are not ready yet to tell you what their pronouns are, and that’s OK,” Vasquez says. If a colleague does not want to disclose gender pronouns, Navy members should “continue to use general-neutral language.”

The video also addresses what should be done when a person “misgender[s] someone.”

“I think the first thing to recognize is that it’s not the end of the world. You correct yourself and move on, or you accept the correction and move on,” Vasquez says. “The most important thing I can tell you is do not put the burden of making you feel good about your mistake on the person that you just misgendered.”

Service members are instructed to practice memorizing a person’s gender pronouns by going “through a progression of three good things about the person using their pronouns.”

“Let’s say the person chooses to use ‘they,'” Vasquez says. “Then you will in your mind go, ‘They have a nice shirt. They have a nice smile. They are really smart.’ So that kinda sticks in your brain.”

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