The State Department says a "pronoun glitch" is to blame for a change in the email system that temporarily assigned random and often incorrect gender pronouns to employees, according to internal emails reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon.
State Department employees reported seeing the change earlier on Thursday, when emails from colleagues suddenly began to include random pronouns, like, "She/her/hers" and "He/Him/His" in the "from" line. The pronouns appear to have been randomly assigned, with men being given female pronouns and vice versa, according to several emails viewed by the Free Beacon. No reports of gender-neutral pronouns attached to email have emerged.
The pronouns appeared just a day after the State Department publicly celebrated "Interphobia Awareness Day," just one of the department’s many initiatives to promote gender inclusivity. Interphobia is the prejudice against those who say they are intersex, which means bodies that "fall outside the strict male/female binary," according to Planned Parenthood.
Reached for comment, the State Department referred the Free Beacon to a tweet from spokesman Matthew Miller, which vaguely refers to the change and says it was "unintentional."
The State Department’s Bureau of Information Resource Management (IRM) is aware of the recent issues with user profiles on Microsoft Outlook and working to remedy the situation. This change was unintentional and the bureau is working to correct this immediately.
— Matthew Miller (@StateDeptSpox) May 18, 2023
"The State Department’s Bureau of Information Resource Management (IRM) is aware of the recent issues with user profiles on Microsoft Outlook and working to remedy the situation," Miller wrote. "This change was unintentional and the bureau is working to correct this immediately."
An internal State Department email referenced a "pronoun glitch" in the system. The email also acknowledges that many staffers "unfortunately" were assigned incorrect gender pronouns, according to one internal State Department communication viewed by the Free Beacon.
"Unfortunately, in some cases, gender pronouns are being displayed incorrectly in Outlook," one email read. The State Department IT team moved to fix the issue, "but a reset of the incorrect pronouns may take up to an hour," employees were told over email.
Even after the apology, employees across the agency were angered and confused by the sudden change, sources said.
"This is distracting from the work that we are actually supposed to be doing," one source familiar with the matter told the Free Beacon. "A lot of people here have been triggered today."
Associated Press reporter Matthew Lee broached the subject during the department's daily briefing. Lee said he has received several emails from State Department employees with incorrect gender pronouns.
WATCH: AP’s Matt Lee asks Biden State Department why they’ve added mandatory pronouns onto the from line on State Department emails.
"This is not an optional thing. … But the problem is that a lot of them or at least some of them so far, as I’ve been able to tell, are wrong!… pic.twitter.com/KVnbnICrUT
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) May 18, 2023
"This is not an optional thing," Lee said. "But the problem is that a lot of them or at least some of them so far, as I’ve been able to tell, are wrong! They’re giving the wrong pronouns! So men are being identified as women and women as men. It's ridiculous."