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HKS Student Introduces Gender Pronoun Stickers

The Kennedy School's student government vice president of diversity introduced pronoun stickers on nametags and placards.
The Kennedy School's student government vice president of diversity introduced pronoun stickers on nametags and placards. By Courtesy of Diego A. Garcia Blum
By Sixiao Yu, Crimson Staff Writer

Diego A. Garcia Blum, vice president of diversity in the Harvard Kennedy School student government, introduced the optional use of gender pronoun stickers on nametags and placards as “a welcome signal” for transgender and nonbinary students at HKS.

Garcia Blum explained the decision to introduce the pronoun stickers in a Jan. 31 email he sent to HKS faculty and staff.

“Often people assume what pronouns other people use by how a person looks like, but this can lead to mistakes that can hurt and exclude people,” he wrote. “The use of visible pronoun stickers is a welcome signal to our trans and gender nonconforming students to be their full selves in any space in our school.”

Garcia Blum said in an interview that he believes the stickers can serve to educate HKS students, faculty, and staff on pronoun usage.

“There are a lot of people here from the Kennedy School who — this is something completely new to them,” he said. “If you’re unsure about the pronouns somebody may use, it’s okay to ask. And if you see somebody that has something like gender nonbinary pronouns, you know, it’s something that you understand, and you can address them correctly.”

Garcia Blum further talked about how gender identity issues are “something that Harvard, overall, needs to do better at.”

“I don’t see any other place that has pronoun stickers or pronoun markers on the placards,” he said.

Morgan R. Pratt, a student at HKS, wrote in an email that, although they do not personally use the stickers, they appreciate the significance of the gesture.

“I identify as non-binary because gender is not important to me--putting a sticker right next to my name ironically feels like it would make gender a disproportionately prominent part of my identity,” they wrote. “That being said, I was very proud to see the activism around pronouns here at HKS. It makes me feel more respected in a sea of people otherwise ignoring or opposing the issue.”

HKS Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf wrote an email to The Crimson noting the school administration’s support for the stickers.

“We thought that our students’ idea to introduce these stickers was a great way to help make every student feel fully welcome at the Kennedy School, so we ensured that the message announcing the stickers went to all of our faculty and staff as well as all of our students,” he wrote.

The small stickers — with phrases like “My Pronouns Are: He/Him” — are located in bins in a student lounge near room 309 in the Kennedy School's Ofer building.

—Staff writer Sixiao Yu can be reached at sixiao.yu@thecrimson.com.

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Harvard Kennedy SchoolGender and SexualityUniversity