Let's Talk About Pronouns: T-Mobile Introduces New Name Tags in Retail Stores

In the last two decades, the LGBTQ+ community has witnessed both setbacks and encouraging milestones within the United States. As we continue to strive to create safe spaces where the community is free to explore gender and sexual identity, the practice of sharing one’s preferred pronouns has become a growing movement across campuses, on social media and even in professional industries. T-Mobile, the wide-reaching wireless provider, recently embraced this movement too, when, on Nov. 6, the company announced the introduction of optional gender pronoun badges for its employees. An employee from T-Mobile reached out to the company I intern for, a talent booking agency who worked with the telecommunications company, this past summer, to express their excitement about the new changes. At the time, it seemed like news that would have slipped past me if I didn't work at the agency, but it put a smile on my face to see proud promotional photos of the new name tags.

T-Mobile’s swift launch of the pronoun name badges in the company’s retail stores all began with an email from a retail employee. Tiffanie Moton, currently working as Truck Store Manager, was inspired by a transitioning coworker who did not want to be referred to by “he” or “she” pronouns. A long-time advocate for diversity and LGBTQ+ issues, Moton realized that the addition of personal pronouns to name badges would not only prevent this coworker from being misgendered, but it would also encourage customers and other coworkers to engage in the pronoun conversation. The company was quick follow up on Moton’s email, and the new name badges were introduced a few weeks later. While the use of pronoun badges is still new territory for retail stores, this isn’t the first time T-Mobile has shown commitment to diversity and inclusion. The company takes its mantra of self-expression, #BeYou, to heart as its website proudly sports multicultural and multigenerational employee networks that focus on women’s leadership, LGBTQ+ issues, veterans and access for disabilities, among others. In honor of LGBTQ+ Pride Month, this past June, T-Mobile also hosted Queer Eye’s culture expert, Karamo Brown, to talk on issues of diversity, identity and expression with a panel of employees.

As part of the company’s Trailblazer guest-speaker series, booked through the agency I work for, Karamo shared his personal experience and advice on accepting and loving yourself, on the power language can have in expressing identity on your own terms and on the ways in which everyone’s journeys differ — a discussion that included the topic of personal pronouns. Karamo is one among an emerging movement of celebrities and advocates who are talking about and inspiring the incorporation of pronouns in workplaces, schools and the entertainment industry. This movement includes Karamo’s Queer Eye co-star, Jonathan Van Ness, who identifies as non-binary, and Sam Smith, who recently announced on social media that they go by the gender-neutral pronouns of they/them.

T-Mobile has — to no one's surprise — also faced some backlash for their recent changes, but I for one enjoyed the news and believe we're another step closer to creating safer spaces in which people can explore and express themselves. Whether it’s an employee striving to create a better workplace, like T-Mobile’s Tiffany Moton, or celebrity advocates, such as Karamo Brown, who are using their platforms to help and inspire others to be their authentic selves, it is clear that the road to diversity and inclusion is paved by a community and its allies who are willing to speak out.