Editor's note: Source nicci port formats her name with lowercase letters.
Recently, Iowa State has offered more opportunities for individuals to identify their pronouns by handing out pronoun pins at events such as Destination Iowa State and the LGBTQIA+ Community Welcome at the beginning of the year, and allowing staff to add pronouns to their nametags.
Some people at Iowa State question why Iowa State business cards do not allow pronouns on the front.
Misgendering someone, or "refer to (someone, especially a transgender person) using a word, especially a pronoun or form of address, that does not correctly reflect the gender with which they identify," according to the Oxford Dictionaries, has been a part of the conversation surrounding pronouns and the importance to some of putting them in email bylines and even on business cards.
To some, a business card should allow an individual to contact someone with the appropriate pronouns.
“Pronouns are important just because it is important to know how to refer to each other," said Clare Lemke, assistant director for the Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success. "Something we stress on a lot when were talking about pronouns in our office is that pronouns replace a person’s name and a name is typically thought of as important."
Lemke compared it to calling someone by the wrong name or mispronouncing someones name.
"Being called by the wrong pronouns can bring up some of those same feelings," Lemke said.
Pronouns are important because they are the second most used way to refer to someone, said nicci port, project director for Diversity & Inclusion and LGBTQ+ Initiatives.
"If you’re not using their name you are using a pronoun. Pronouns are important because they are a parallel use of your name,” port said.
There is no designated space for pronouns on the front of the Iowa State University business cards, port said, but they are allowed.
“The business cards have a template for the front and people are allowed to print things on the back," port said. "That is where you would put things like a website, facebook page or pronouns. There is no field within the front template for pronouns.”
It takes an extra fee to print on the back of the business card, port said. When checking the Iowa State University Print and Copy Services website, it says there is a $23 fee for printing on the backside.
Pronouns are allowed to be engraved on Iowa State nametags and port said she and others have found the process of working with Cyclone Engraving, the ones who create the nametags, to be very easy.
“As I have been navigating this process [of putting pronouns on business cards] it is my understanding that printing talks to marketing and marketing signs off on it. So I would think the ultimate decision maker would be [Office of University Marketing],” port said.
The Office of University Marketing said the director “is in conversations with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion about the various opportunities.” They have made no further comment at this time.
“Practical purposes for me [of having pronouns of the front of business cards] would be that when I give my card to somebody I want them to know what they should call me when they don’t call me nicci," port said.
"Visibility is also important, just for everybody to know everyone else’s pronouns. It also shows visibility to say that I understand that not everybody is she/her/hers, that not everybody who presents feminely is she/her/hers, that not everybody identifies on the binary of he/him/his or she/her/hers."
There is a variety of people who contribute to Iowa State, port said, and by allowing individuals to put their pronouns prominently on the business cards it shows Iowa State values diversity.
"Not only is it the right thing to do, but it could also affect the decision of someone coming to Iowa State versus going somewhere else," port said. "Because they would say ‘hey that person recognizes pronouns, that means I’m going to be included and welcome there. So I am going to make the decision to go to Iowa State.'"
“In an ever changing world we are evolving and the ways we introduce ourselves is evolving. So I feel that the systems we use to introduce ourselves, such as business cards, should evolve as well.”