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Norton Rose Fulbright misgendered its own staff last week after one of its IT systems went on the blink.

The global firm rolled out a new email signature block for Australian staff where they could specify the pronouns they wanted other people to use while talking about them.

Staff could insert pronouns such as ‘he/him’, ‘she/her’ or, if they decided the categories of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ were too tethered to restrictive gender roles to apply to their conception of themselves, ‘they/them’.

But the computers had other ideas and started changing people's pronouns at random, resulting in 35 instances of 'he/hims' becoming 'she/hers' and 'she/hers’ becoming 'he/hims'.

It is not known whether any non-binary staff were re-sexed, but in any event binary code’s rebellion against gender identity ideology was swiftly cancelled.

In an email to all Australian staff last Friday, the firm's Head of Service Delivery for the country, Dan Halford, explained that due to a software error "the pronouns displayed in your email signature may have changed to an incorrect identity. She/Her may have become He/Him, etc".

Halford advised staff to log out and then in again, as "The underlying data has been corrected".

An insider claimed the glitch only affected people who picked pronouns which did not match the sex noted on their NRF personnel records. "The computers in the Down Under offices of Norton Rose appear to be transphobic!" said the individual.

However, a spokesperson for Norton Rose Fulbright told RollOnFriday that the "regrettable software error" was random, and that it was "immediately addressed once detected and the issue was fully resolved within 30 minutes". You bet it was.

"We’re proud of initiatives such as these to support our people and have had overwhelmingly good feedback about them", he she zie they added.

Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 23 July 21 06:39

You’d have to have a heart of stone not to laugh. Doing the bidding of some of the most sensitive people to win their approval, and achieving the opposite. 

Anonymous 23 July 21 07:39

This is timely as the pop singer Halsey (she/they) has just announced that she will never allow the press to interview her again because a magazine only referred to her as ‘she’, rather than mixing it up with ‘they’. 

So do remember to follow that rule as well.

Gerry Atric 23 July 21 09:36

"We’re proud of initiatives such as these"

So stunning. So brave. 

I assume Norton Rose's pride extends to their offices in Moscow, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Uganda, where I'm sure gender fluidity is actively encouraged by this courageous firm....

Ed Wood 23 July 21 09:48

"She/Her may have become He/Him"

It is kind of ridiculous that firms are getting themselves in the position where they even have to write phrases like this.

anon 23 July 21 09:52

I’m trying hard, but I just can’t get behind them / they - people are welcome to choose pronouns that are not he / her, but them / they are plurals ffs

LondonLife 23 July 21 10:02

I like to think of myself as being liberal and open minded but I must admit, if I see anyone using  "they/them" in their email signature will make me think they are weird and put me off working with them.

However, I have zero issue with transgenders using the opposite he/she etc. I guess that makes me non-binaryist - not sure what the term is?

Anon 23 July 21 10:14

"Come see the oppression inherent in the system!"

Is what might have been said, if the people who say such things had a sense of humour, which of course they don't.

Anonymous 23 July 21 10:57

@9.52, use of singular ‘they’ goes back to about the 14th century in English. The idea that it’s ‘wrong’ emerged in the Victorian era along with other examples of grammatical puritanism like the prejudice against split infinitives. 

Anonymous 23 July 21 11:27

@10.57 what's wrong with 'it'? Totally gender neutral and prefectly singular in 21st century English.

Anonymous 23 July 21 12:06

"why don't people just update their own email signatures??"

Because there is a risk that if we left it up to individuals that they would poke fun at the whole concept by choosing 'flip/flop' or something. Which might make people snigger at the system of choosing and declaring pronouns altogether.

And we can't have that.

Anon 23 July 21 13:39

@10:57 - my favourite past time - asking split infinitive puritan's why I can't split an infinitive - the answer I usually get ultimately boils down to "because you don't split them in latin" - asking them to explain where the infinitive in "amo" is the tends to be great fun!

Anonymous 23 July 21 14:08

@11:21 Update their own signatures? These are lawyers! That takes billable time! And besides, they’d get addresses wrong, their job titles wrong, ignore layout standards, etc. 

Hackaforte 23 July 21 15:10

@ 13:39

Split infinitives may be up for discussion, but misplaced apostrophes are a different tub of herring entirely. 

@13.39 23 July 21 15:31

My understanding is that that’s the reason exactly: there’s no separate particle to conjugate for the infinitive in Latin, so it’s not possible to split them. That was then applied in English lessons at school, for some reason. 

I’m enjoying the reaction to the post at 10.57. Who knew historical linguistics could be so divisive. 

Anonymous 26 July 21 10:30

Not sure why people are so upset at this computer program's progressive approach to speeding up the process of trans-acceptance.

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