The State Department announced in an email to employees on Friday that they were offering free therapy to anyone who felt "hurt or upset" after a system glitch assigned random pronouns to staff members on Thursday. It encouraged employees to contact the State Department’s Employee Consultation Service if they were upset about the mixup.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, the glitch randomly assigned pronouns to the "from" line in emails and often the pronouns were wrong, giving men female pronouns and women male pronouns.
One employee said that the incident was a distraction from their work and "a lot of people here have been triggered today."
According to the State Department’s Chief information officer Kelly E. Fletcher, "the intent behind this feature is to make our systems more inclusive and provide employees with options. Not to make decisions for them."
Fletcher said, "I recognize that this error had the opposite effect, and again, I am very sorry."
The organization is in the process of "testing a new feature that will provide users with the option to include their preferred pronouns in their Global Address List profile. The feature inadvertently went live, and a large number of employees had randomly assigned pronouns added to their profiles," Fletcher said.
"I deeply regret the confusion and distress this mistake caused our workforce," Fletcher concluded.
On Thursday, a reporter with the Associated Press, Matt Lee demanded to know why the agency was forcing wrong pronouns into their emails.
Lee asked Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel, "The State Departments internal email system, and I tested this, has added pronouns to people’s, not their signature, but to their folder where you know where it says 'from,' I'm just wondering, why, and who made this decision?"
According to the Daily Mail, Patel said he had no knowledge of the "phenomenon."
In 2021, the State Department celebrated International Pronouns Day with a Tweet that explained "why many people list pronouns on their email and social media profiles."
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