In late December, the Air Force put out a memorandum stating that airmen and guardians will now be allowed to include pronouns in their email signature blocks.
The Tongue and Quill, the branch’s writing guide that provides formatting standards for official documents, including email, letters and memos, will be updated to reflect this change.
”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 in a statement.
But not all the services have or are pursuing a policy regarding pronoun use in email signature blocks.
The Army is weighing its options while the Navy and Marine Corps have not at this time determined that a pronoun usage policy is necessary.
Though the Army has yet to pursue any such policy with regard to the use of pronouns in signature blocks, the service has plans to reach out to the Air Force to discuss its measure and gain a better understanding of it, an Army spokesperson told Military Times.
The Navy, on the other hand, is not currently looking to release an official stance. Rather, sailors’ pronoun usage in signature blocks will remain up to their own discretion.
“Currently, the use of pronouns is the service member’s choice to include or not,” Neal Fisher, deputy director of public affairs for the Chief of Naval Personnel, told Military Times. “The Navy does not have a standing policy on email signature lines that address the use of personal pronouns, [and it] has not mandated, encouraged, discouraged nor considered the use of pronouns in signature blocks.”
As for the Marine Corps, it will follow the Navy’s lead. Marines and sailors alike are allowed to include in their signature block what they believe is necessary to ensure clear and effective digital communication, according to Capt. Ryan Bruce, a media operations officer with the HQMC Communication Directorate.
“The Marine Corps does not have a specific policy dictating what can or cannot be included in an email signature block,” Bruce noted. “The Naval Correspondence Manual describes several complimentary email closings, but generally defers to following customs and courtesies.”
The Air Force decision was led by its LGBTQ Initiatives Team, which advocated for this policy as a way to create a more inclusive culture for airmen.
“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, LIT Transgender Policy Team co-lead, said.
“The use of correct pronouns is an easy way to show care and respect for airmen and guardians as individuals,” Fram added.
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.