Life Advice



Ceo Seeks To Indicate Gender, Avoid Confusion

Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin on

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a 51-year-old cis woman with a unique name that is easily and consistently confused with a male name. This has resulted in countless incidents, from minor inconveniences to combative confrontations. I am a CEO, and people usually get very uncomfortable when they realize that they have misgendered me.

I have noticed that a lot of people have started to include their chosen pronouns in their email signature lines or other correspondence. I thought this might be an easy and painless way to announce my gender.

However, I am somewhat uncomfortable doing so. I feel like I am using an important issue affecting many vulnerable people and co-opting it to solve my stupid personal issue. My questions are:

1. How do I indicate my name and/or gender in a way that is not obnoxious, and that will minimize incidents where people call me by the wrong name or wrong gender (either by email or in person)?

2. Is it morally acceptable for me to list my preferred pronouns in my email or signature lines? And if it's not going to be effective, should I even try?

GENTLE READER: The simplest solution seems to Miss Manners to be to use Ms. or Mrs. in parentheses before your name in your correspondence.

As for using, or not using, a separate pronoun line, Miss Manners is in the etiquette, not the morals, business. But she observes that the world is a better place when people do the right thing for the wrong reasons than when they do the wrong thing for the right reasons.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My dad and his sisters, who grew up in the midst of a messy and traumatic divorce, have never gotten along. After a serious inheritance argument, which took place during my teen years, my parents decided to more or less cut contact with my aunts.

Now that I am an adult, my parents have made sure I understand that I am free to choose with whom I associate, which includes choosing who I invite to my wedding. I didn't want to invite these two aunts anyway, so I didn't.


The complication is my grandma. She has always been more than willing to overlook her daughters' mistreatment of my dad, and she feels that I am being terribly unfair in not inviting them. This is how I expected her to feel.

What I did not expect was for her to tell me she probably won't come because of it. This is heartbreaking to me, because I love my grandma and really want her there for my wedding day. Is there anything that I (or my fiance) can do to help my grandma put her feelings about this aside for long enough to attend my wedding?

GENTLE READER: Grandma, we both know the history between dad and his sisters. But I would really like you to be there. Having you in my life has always been important to me, and this would mean a lot to me.

Note that Miss Manners chooses her tenses carefully as she intends to flatter grandma -- while gently suggesting that your own feelings about her may not be entirely immutable.


(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)






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