colourful blocks with pronouns

He/She/They: Prioritizing Personal Pronouns 


You’ve probably seen pronouns popping up on social media profiles or email signatures after people’s name. They look like: she/her, he/him, they/them, or even they/he or she/they.

But what does it mean? 

It’s really not that complicated! Pronouns simply replace a proper noun, or name, in conversation. So, instead of saying “That’s Cameron’s coat” you could say “That’s his/her/their coat.” 

Pronouns have part of the ongoing conversation of gender and gender identity. But, before we dive into how to use personal pronouns correctly, let’s dive into the differences between sex, sexual orientation, and gender. 

Sex refers to a person's biological status and is typically assigned at birth (male, female, intersex). 

Gender is often defined as a social construct of norms, behaviours and roles that varies between societies and over time (man, woman, nonbinary). 

Sexual orientation refers to physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to members of the same and/or other genders (straight, gay, bisexual, lesbian, etc.) 

See how they’re all different? We should note that no matter what someone was assigned at birth (male/female/intersex), their gender identity exists separately. It’s gender identity that tends to influence pronouns.  

Pronouns & Business Travel 

Using a person's correct pronouns shows respect, and organizations around the world are listening. In Canada, it was announced that as of June 4, 2019, non-binary and transgender Canadians and Residents would be able to identify as X on their Canadian passports, travel documents, citizenship certificates, and PR cards.

All celebration aside, they also left this reminder: “We can’t guarantee that other countries you visit or travel through will accept the sex or gender identifier on your passport or travel document. Check with our local Canadian embassy, high commission or consulate in the countries you plan to visit or travel through to make sure you understand their entry requirements.”  

If you know your traveller has an X on their Canadian passport, you’ll want to make sure you’re sending them to locations that will honour and affirm their gender identity and not put them at an increased risk. A shocking 69 countries still have anti-2SLGBTQI+ laws in place, with some upholding outright bans. Need more info on the 2SLGBTQI+ environment in a particular country? Check out the Country Information on the Government of Canada’s Travel Advice and Advisories page for more info. 

Gender Identity and Travel Tech 

So you know a traveller’s personal pronouns, but how do you add them to your travel tech to make sure their gender identity is affirmed throughout the travel process? While many HRIT systems have started to include personal pronouns in their employee profiles, it’s a bit more complicated in the travel space.  

How can the corporate travel industry work together to make sure tech can support travellers of all genders? The traveller profile needs to sync with other systems, like the GDS or online booking tool. Not all GDS and OBT systems currently support X or U gender markers or non-gendered titles, which could cause a break in the connection between systems. Airlines, hotels, TMCs and other travel organizations all need to collaborate to address the barriers to a seamless travel experience for transgender and non-binary travellers. 

The journey of affirming gender identity in travel still has a long way to go, but the first place we can start is with our tech and policies. Chat with your Account/Customer Success Managers and let them know gender inclusivity is a priority, especially adding personal pronouns. Now that the Canada is accepting non-binary identifiers on passports, and more and more countries around the world adopt this change, the tech and procedures need to catch up. 

Where to go from here 

There are simple things you can do to jumpstart your company’s path to gender equity and inclusions. Encourage your team to include their personal pronouns in email signatures, virtual meeting profiles, and nametags at events. Make the switch to HRIT systems that support personal pronouns and hand out information that helps your team and travellers understand the importance of respecting personal pronouns and gender identity. Together, we can make the business travel world an even more inclusive place.