The U.S. Air Force has updated its writing guidelines to allow the gender pronoun preferences "he/him," "she/her," and "they/them" to be displayed in signature blocks of official email correspondence.
In a news release issued Monday, the service branch said the recent update to its official handbook, "The Tongue and Quill," was advocated by the Air Force's newly launched LGBTQ Initiatives Team — which was reportedly created earlier this year to identify and resolve issues that impede the success of LGBTQ airmen and Guardians.
In a statement, Air Force Undersecretary Gina Ortiz Jones touted the update, saying, "An inclusive force is a mission-ready force, and I'm thankful to the LGBTQ Initiatives Team for helping us realize this opportunity to be a more inclusive force."
Lt. Col. Bree Fram, who co-leads the transgender policy team, said the change was driven by the "awareness of a restrictive policy that was being used against transgender Airmen and Guardians who were authentically representing themselves."
Fram added that it was "important for many individuals often confused as being a different gender in their communications."
Master Sgt. Jamie Hash, who co-leads the transgender policy team along with Fram, went on to suggest that the change moves the service branch further down the road toward "explicitly acknowledging the existence and dignity of non-binary military members and civilians," according to the news release.
Hash added that the change also mitigates confusion for people with "non-Anglo/Western" gender-neutral names.
According to Stars and Stripes, a weekend post on an unofficial Air Force-associated Facebook page displaying an email announcing the new guidelines has received at least 400 comments, most of which deride the change.
"Good to see the air force has its priorities straight," one commenter said, while another predicted, "We're gonna lose the next war."
"Man the Russians and Chinese must be shaking in their boots cause their [opposing force] decides he/she wants to be called the opposite sex or no gender at all," another added.
Others, however, expressed appreciation for the update.
One former active duty armed services member said, “This is SO helpful. My first name is Parker so when I was (active duty) I was ALWAYS getting 'Sir.' So this is great!”
The Air Force was careful to note in an internal memo that "the use of pronouns (he/him, she/her, or they/them) in an email signature block is authorized but not required.”
The memo also stated: “Do not add slogans, quotes or other personalization to an official e-mail/social media signature block."