Have a general question about employment law? Want to share a story? I welcome all comments and questions. I can't give legal advice here about specific situations but will be glad to discuss general issues and try to point you in the right direction. If you need legal advice, contact an employment lawyer in your state. Remember, anything you post here will be seen publicly, and I will comment publicly on it. It will not be confidential. Govern yourself accordingly. If you want to communicate with me confidentially as Donna Ballman, Florida lawyer rather than as Donna Ballman, blogger, my firm's website is here.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

SNL's "It's Pat" Shows How Easy It Is To Respect Nonbinary Coworkers

 With all the anti-trans stuff coming out of the GOP, and especially Florida, I started thinking about an old Saturday Night live sketch, “It’s Pat.” And when I first thought about it, I thought it might be considered offensive to nonbinary people now. But then it occurred to me that the sketch actually shows how easy it is to respect the pronouns of nonbinary workers. The sketch features a character named Pat, whose gender is not specified or obvious, and is played by Julia Sweeney.

The other characters in the sketch are confused about which pronouns (either "he" or "she") and other gender-specific terms to use to refer to Pat, so they avoid using gender-specific language. For instance, on Pat’s birthday they start to sing, “For he’s/she’s a jolly good fellow,” but after a mixture of choices they settle on, “For Pat’s a jolly good person.” Pat’s coworkers ultimately refer to Pat as “they/them” in order not to misgender Pat. They did this naturally, if a little awkwardly, before the use of neutral pronouns became both common and a political football.

The sketch is meant to be humorous, but it also demonstrates both the ease of using the correct pronouns for nonbinary workers, and how we used to have more respect for our fellow humans. Nowadays, the right would probably say the sketch is too "woke" and claim offense of the use of neutral language. Using the correct pronouns is a basic form of respect and helps to create an inclusive and welcoming workplace for all employees. This sketch shows that it is not difficult to respect the pronouns of nonbinary workers and that everyone can do it with a little effort and awareness.

Like with the coworkers in “It’s Pat,” sometimes neutral language and pronouns can be confusing at first. But with a little effort and respect, it is actually pretty easy. If you make a mistake, just correct it. Deliberately misgendering people is cruel and disrespectful.

By demonstrating the ease of using the correct pronouns, the sketch should encourage everyone to make an effort to be more inclusive and respectful in their interactions with nonbinary coworkers.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I appreciate your comments and general questions but this isn't the place to ask confidential legal questions. If you need an employee-side employment lawyer, try http://exchange.nela.org/findalawyer to locate one in your state.