here is the e-mail exchange i had today with the other person who’s writing me letters for this grant application [and, ya know, anything else i apply for over the next like 20 years]:
them: So, how do you want me to handle pronouns in my reference letter? I’m happy to do as you wish, but if I use “she”, do you think this needs any explanation if your first name is Joseph? Do you explain? Do I? Do we just let the readers work it out for themselves? Let me know.
me: Thanks very much for asking. Much appreciated. So yeah, I’m using female pronouns now (both in writing and in general day to day life), so the letter should reflect that. I know it may cause some confusion with my name (which I have no intention of changing), and that’s something I’ll have to explain to people. The application materials have a spot for marking gender, which I will put as female, but I imagine some folks might not see all the materials together, etc. So, my plan is to call/e-mail the foundation to talk to them about it and give them a heads-up.
them: Got it. I think that plan makes good sense. I will proceed along those lines. By the way, have you considered making your nickname to “Jo” instead of “Joe” since the former implies female and the letter male? Just a thought.
me: Sweet, thanks! Yeah, considered it, but “Joe” is me…so I’m sticking with it. And preparing myself to deal with all the associated misunderstandings.
them: Okey doke, Joe it stays!
i am 2 for 2. and i am privileged*. shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.
[*by privileged, i mean that i am damn lucky to have been in a place that is full of pretty supportive people, including those with whom i work. i know too many people in this situation who have been screwed over. so not ok.]