The Pronoun Project: Taking Action for Gender Identity and Inclusivity

by Sarah Hoffman

During this year’s SXSW, T3 is launching a campaign to draw attention to a little talked-about issue that marketers face on a regular basis: How can we be more inclusive when it comes to gender identity?

This is not a new issue. Gender identity has long been a topic of conversation in the LGBTQ community. If you don’t fit neatly into traditional male or female roles, then you are frequently challenged with finding the right words to use, and you may be confronted with difficult or uncomfortable choices for things as simple as which bathroom to use. And yet, most brands continue to market through a binary lens. We can do better.

Starting today, we are launching The Pronoun Project, a call to action for fellow marketers to join in taking a pledge to explore how we can create ads, designs and experiences that better represent gender identity and personal expression. This week of awareness at SXSW includes “My Pronouns Are _______” pins and stickers that can be seen across the conference. The site includes free code snippets and links to browser plugins that will allow users to immediately change their perception of gender norms. There are also educational resources so you can read up on the issues. For each brand or person that pledges to take action on The Pronoun Project site, T3 will donate $1 (up to $5,000) to the nonprofit organizations Gender Spectrum and Equality Texas.

T3 is also moderating two panels during the conference. The first is a unofficial panel that’s open to everyone who RSVPs called “Better Than Stereotypes.” It’s Saturday at 3pm in Capital Factory’s Voltron Room, and the panelists include individuals from Teen Vogue and OKCupid. The second panel is part of the official SXSW Interactive programming. It’s called “How Gender Fluidity Recasts Brand Engagement,” and it takes place on Monday at 11am with panelists from the University of Texas and IBM.

We’ve always believed that successful brands are the ones that can establish a real and personal connection with consumers right from the start. But this only happens if brands allow people to represent themselves authentically, starting with their gender identity. And don’t just take my word for it. Statistics show that there’s a $2.5 trillion market whose attitudes and perceptions about gender are expanding. Over 2/3 of parents surveyed feel brands perpetuate gender stereotypes. Half of all millennials feel gender is a spectrum, while 56 percent of Gen Z-ers say they know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns.

Through The Pronoun Project we are asking the creative community to take a pledge to empower peers to consider a broader view of gender identity and expression. In the process, we hope to create a more inclusive industry for everyone.

Sarah Hoffman

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