Talk Gender to Me campaign hopes to educate on ‘gender considerate’ language in Capitol Hill’s restaurants and bars

Pronouns matter and Capitol Hill’s communities of bars, restaurants, and clubs are one of its key mixing spaces. It’s an opportunity for people to talk and come together and, sometimes because of words and misunderstanding, move apart.

“Through our experience educating, listening and empowering workers we learned that asking workers to come to us for workshops was a harder lift,” Debbie Carlsen, director, of the LGBTQ Allyship tells CHS. “Instead we want to go to them in their workplace. Many of the workers we were educating were working in the restaurant industry and we know anecdotally that LGBTQ people disproportionately work in hospitality jobs.”

After years working with Seattle’s LGBTQ community on education about their workers’ rights through a partnership with Fair Work Center and the Office of Labor Standards, the Allyship is taking on a new mission: gender considerate language in the workplace.

The Talk Gender to Me campaign is being geared towards Seattle restaurant workers as “a professional development opportunity that encourages respecting all workers and customers around their gender identity, gender expression and gender” —

All too often LGBTQ customers are unintentionally misgendered at restaurants which can be a jarring experience. Redwolf Painter, a mixed blood trans resident says, “I am often misgendered in restaurants and don’t feel safe correcting folks. I leave angry and vowing to not return to that establishment. I’m so grateful to Allyship for starting this dialogue and training to restaurant staff! I love the idea of restaurants taking the Talk Gender to Me pledge and I look forward to places I can eat or drink without worry.”

Beginning with a free training session — and some big booze industry support from Tito’s Handmade Vodka, the campaign will include a few on-Hill events next Thursday, April 19th to help spread the word when Coastal Kitchen (429 15th Ave E, 3pm – 6pm), the Wildrose (1021 E. Pike, 4pm – 8pm) and Bar Vacilando (405 15th Ave E, 4pm – 6pm) are all hosting special Talk Gender to Me happy hours.

It’s a small piece of a big change for some of the smallest but most important words in day to day language. In addition to the kick-off happy hours, Allyship will be providing Talk Gender to Me cards that can be left behind to help. “It’s a great way to call people in and generate dialogue that is inviting and useful,” Carlsen said. On the backside of the card, you will find suggested gender considerate language and best practices for restaurant staff “from restaurant staff,” Carlsen said.

At the Wildrose, they see the initiative as part of preserving an LGBTQ friendly culture on the Hill. “We have seen a lot of changes over the years,” co-owner Martha Manning said in an announcement on the campaign. “The Hill has become less welcoming to the LGBTQ community, but many LGBTQ individuals still come here to drink, eat, seek community and be visible. Being gender considerate in your establishment is respectful, inclusive and builds your customer base. We hope more restaurants commit to taking the Talk Gender to Me pledge.”

You can learn more about the training session and the campaign at allyship.org.


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9 thoughts on “Talk Gender to Me campaign hopes to educate on ‘gender considerate’ language in Capitol Hill’s restaurants and bars

    • The Wildrose Bar is dedicated to a dialogue and continuing to serve their community in a respectful gender liberating manner. Come out and talk to staff – I have been engaging in thoughtful conversations with the Rose staff about using gender considerate language.

  1. This is awesome! I also have been made uncomfortable and have avoided returning to restaurants that have misgendered me… and reallly, 99% of the time it could be avoided by just not ended you sentences with “sir/ma’am’. “Thank you” sounds way more personable than “thank you, sir” anyway!

  2. This is definitely what restaurant workers and bartenders care about, people’s invented pronouns and genders, and not silly little things like wage increases or career advancement.

    • The Talk Gender to Me project provides trainings around gender considerate language and workers’ protections like wages, paid sick and safe time, wage theft, fair scheduling, fair chance employment and the hotel workers health and safety initiative. Gender, race and economic protections and best practices must be connected to address the challenges for LGBTQ staff in the restaurant industry. Actually, this is essential for all workers in the restaurant industry.

  3. Looooool because it’s either or?

    I have worked in the service industry in Capitol Hill for over 8 years, and I care about receiving fair wages AND being treated with basic human decency.

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