I am from the United States and I live in the Midwest. I would like to add my pronouns to my email signature. Some people in my company have been doing this, although there is no official policy on the matter (for or against).

However, I want to be clear about my REASON for doing this: I have a gender neutral name (not my fault, my parents chose it). I'm not doing this as a political statement. I'm not transgender and don't want to be mistaken for being transgender or for supporting trans people.

How can I add my pronouns to my email signature without leading people to think I am trans or supportive of trans people?


My middle name is more obviously feminine. I added it into my signature. Picture "Sam Catherine Smith". Then I was still called "he" half the time, but "she" the other half. Unfortunately, adding "Catherine" also brought changes I was not expecting. To sum these up, issues that were previously resolved quickly now involved a lot of back-and-forth, and people were more likely to second-guess my suggestions and solutions. I experienced classic female problems that women complain about, like their ideas being dismissed until a male colleague repeats them. I had never experienced things like this before. I actually did not believe these complaints were true until it happened to me. After a few weeks of this, I removed "Catherine" from my email signature. The vendors I work with rotate, so by now no one knows me as "Sam Catherine".

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 18:30

7 Answers 7


Just replace in your signature "Sam Smith" with "Mrs. Sam Smith" or "Miss Sam Smith" or "Ms. Sam Smith" or "Mr. Sam Smith". Whether you want do that depends on whether your gender agrees with what the average prejudiced person would expect due to your position and name.

Also applies if you have a foreign name where the average person you get in contact with wouldn't have any idea what your gender is (even though to everyone from the same area it is very obvious). If your family name is not your last name then you might underline your last name.

PS. To Hilmar: I am Mr. Gnasher, and if anyone "frowns upon" this... Anyone can feel free to put whatever they like in front of their name, and I'm not going to complain. I expect the same respect from anyone else.

PPS. Where adding Mr./Mrs. is even more important if you have a first name that is not just ambiguous, but actually misleading people in the place where you are. For example if you live in the UK or USA, and you are Mr. Jean from France or Mr. Andrea from Italy.

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    This is the best way of doing it. This question assumes that pronouns are the best way of conveying this information. It's not. Anything other than an overt disclaimer (which people will certainly take offense with) pretty much renders any use of pronoun specifiers to be problematic. Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 9:16
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    @Hilmar However, the OP has specifically stated that the purpose is to resolve the ambiguity inherent in their gender-neutral name.Given that and their apparent traditional cis-gender identity, anybody who's going to complain about them just using a traditional binary cis-gender honorific to resolve that ambiguity is likely to find issue with this attempt to resolve said ambiguity no matter how the OP attempts to resolve it (IOW, they're the type of people who are just looking for things to complain about). Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 13:02
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    @JoeStrazzere I agree that in the US, Mr. or Ms. aren't antiquated as honorifics. Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 18:30
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    @Acccumulation using a traditional honorific to disambiguate the gender of an individual with a gender neutral name who is not themselves part of one of those minorities is hardly marginalizing minorities. If the traditional meaning of the honorific is accurate (and based on the OP's statements, it almost certainly is), then there's no harm being done whatsoever by the OP choosing to use it to refer to themselves to resolve the ambiguity in their name, and anybody complaining about such usage is looking for an excuse to show off their support for those minorities whether it's justified or not. Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 19:49
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    @notmySOaccount With "Dr. Sam Smith" the problem is obviously back again.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 20:26

You can't really use a convention designed by the transgender community and their supporters to promote the idea that gender and pronouns aren't always obvious without coming across as supporting that same idea.

On the other hand, if you don't support the idea of transgenderism, then I'm guessing you feel there's only one proper set of pronouns for you anyway, and the problem isn't "People use the wrong pronouns" but "People assume I'm a different gender".

In that case, just go for the direct and straightforward fix:

Dr Name (female).

This doesn't look like something used by other communities and so is highly unlikely to be confused as support for (or being) transgender but everyone will figure out which pronouns to use from this.

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    People assuming male as the default, and women taking offense at that, long precedes the trans movement. Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 19:05
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    @Acccumulation I'm not sure how that comment ties in to my answer?
    – Erik
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 19:06
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    I was responding to the first line of your answer. Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 19:18
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    I'd argue while people have definitely clarified gender for centuries, and people have discussed gender-neutral pronouns as well for a long time, the practice specifically of telling people what pronouns to use as a method of clarification originated in the trans and non-binary movements.
    – daboross
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 23:05
  • Yeah, what daboross said. Gender has been non-obvious for people since forever, but the idea that you can just tell people your real gender and how to address you is pretty recent and the specific convention of "these are my pronouns" came from the trans community.
    – Erik
    Commented Sep 21, 2020 at 5:29

As someone with an androgynous name "Ashley" I get misgendered all the time. I once got stopped boarding a business flight because my boarding pass was in the name "Miss Ashley Lastname" and I was clearly Male.

I am supportive of trans rights but I dont put pronouns in my email signature to resolve my own misgendering.

I include a small profile picture. Just a simple headshot in a business shirt on a white background.

Not only has that stopped the misgendering, it also allows people who I've talked with online to identify me when they travel between offices.

(I probably should add explicit pronouns though. Am realising this now reading what I'm saying here, that yes it does make trans stick out less. "Ashley Lastname (his/him)")

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    FYI the conventional order for pronouns goes "he/him/his" or "he/him", it sounds funny to my ear the way you've written it Commented Sep 21, 2020 at 21:58
  • Thanks Ash. Incidentally, I used to have a profile picture at previous company and was still misgendered. On LinkedIn, I added profile picture, still get addressed with "Dear Sir" and such, I guess people don't look at it. Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 0:02

How can I add my pronouns to my email signature without leading people to think I am transgender or supportive of transgender?

In life, people make assumptions and jump to conclusions (valid or not) all the time.

You can do X thing, or say X thing, and your meaning or intentions may be X... but that doesn't guarantee that everyone will understand that you meant X, or that your intention was X: some may grasp that you actually said X, others may assume or jump to conclusions that you meant Y, or Z, or Omega...

In other words, you can include your pronouns on your signature if you want, but you can't prevent some people from jumping to conclusions or assuming things of your nature or identity.

Now, about the actual way of including it, I think it's fine just to put it along your signature and phrase it in a standard way, like this perhaps:

Dr. notmySOaccount
Pronouns: [your pronouns here]

Now, you've still haven't made clear why you want to do this, but in the meantime I will assume (oh, the irony) that you want to do it because your gender-neutral name leads to some people using the wrong pronouns when writing to you.

If that's the case, as suggested in comments, you could also use "Mr." or "Mrs."/"Ms." along your name and last name to smoothly point readers of your emails to the right way of addressing you.

  • Thanks but in my country, Mrs is only applicable for married women, I've never been married. And yes you assumed right, it's because I have a gender neutral name and it leads to people thinking I'm a man. Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 5:17
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    @notmySOaccount edited my answer. The alternative is Miss or Ms. if you are not married
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 5:33
  • Then while Miss or Ms are options, madam might also be included.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 9:41
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    @SolarMike Probably not in a professional email though. Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 18:11
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    @SolarMike You wouldn't use Madam in a signature, only to address a person.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 20:28

I'm from a jurisdiction where email signatures must contain the full business address.
If such a long signature is acceptable for you, it offers an IMHO very unpolitical, reticent and businesslike way of stating the preferred way of addressing you (strictly speaking, not the pronouns, though):

Ms. Notmy S. Oaccount, PhD  
Public Communication Department  
Acme Inc.  
123, Tumbleweed Drive  
Midwest Z1P C0D  
phone: +1 234 5678-9  
email:  [email protected]
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    I've read several times on Academia and Workplace SE statements like "I have never ever read a signature in my life." Are signatures read in your jurisdiction?
    – guest
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 12:45
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    @guest I read signatures all the time in order to the ascertain the phone numbers of people I have been emailing, so that I can call them directly.
    – Peter M
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 14:00
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    @JoeStrazzere: Germany Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 17:25
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    @guest: similar to PeterM, I look at the signature for phone numbers, full name (over here, even when I get an email signed with first name, the offer or invoice is typcially more formal with full name and address) etc. Of course, that's also because I can expect to find this information there... Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 17:30
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    Haha this is a funny example. Thank you for posting it Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 18:15

There is de-facto standard emerging for this typ of thing. The goal is to convey which pronouns you would like to be addressed with, regardless of your biological, modified, legal, or presented (=visual) gender, so communication is easier and no guess work required.

It looks like

  • Sydney Smith (she, her)
  • Sydney Smith (he, him)
  • Sydney Smith (they, them)

And yes, there are people that like to be addressed as "they" and which Mr and Ms. dont' allow for.

Even if your are clearly male or female, it's still good practice to add this to your signature, since it helps the more gender fluid people to not stick out with this.

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    Could you clarify if this is indeed accepted and standard in the US in all industries? For better or worse (probably worse), in my country, indicating pronouns would be strange for office workers and absolutely weird for blue collar workers.
    – guest
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 14:17
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    @guest I don't believe there is an accepted standard at all yet, it is a new a developing format.
    – Jontia
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 14:57
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    This is supporting transsexuals. OP specifically stated that this is to be avoided.
    – UTF-8
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 16:20
  • This is the way it's done in the company I work for.
    – PeteCon
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 20:57
  • How would one formally address a "they/them"? Simply saying Dear [Name][Lastname] seems a bit informal.
    – Finn
    Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 12:28

There is no standard business-letter form or long-established practice for stating your gendered pronoun preference because that is a new tradition. You are free to make variations of it without fear of censure.

So just indicate your preferred pronouns together with your reason for doing so.

notmySOaccount (she, her, hers - note gender-ambiguous name)


notmySOaccount (note, female despite my name)

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    Is "her, hers" really neccessary? I think "she" would be enough
    – guest
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 9:32
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    @guest my understanding is these formats tend to specify three forms so that for pronoun groups that are less common (xe, xem, xyr) the same style can be used.
    – Jontia
    Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 15:00

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