The State Department has offered free counseling to employees who may have been triggered over an email glitch.
For those that need it, therapy from a “professional counselor” will be given to “any employee who feels hurt or upset as a result of this unfortunate mistake,” read an email to all Department of State employees.
“I want to stress that the intent behind making this feature available is to make our systems more inclusive and provide employees with options—not to make decisions for them,” Kelly Fletcher, the State Department’s chief information officer, said in the email. “I recognize that this error had the opposite effect, and again, I am very sorry.”
“I deeply regret the confusion and distress this mistake caused our workforce,” Fletcher wrote.
So what happened?
The Department of State has implemented technology that automatically displays the pronouns of the employee in the email. The glitch caused “She/her/hers” and “He/him/his” to be displayed in the “from” line. When the pronouns were displayed they were incorrect.
When news about the glitch broke, Matt Lee from the AP pressed Deputy State Department spokesman Vedant Patel about the incident.
“I’d like to know why this would not be an optional thing … 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,” Lee said. “So men are being identified as women and women as men … and this has nothing to do with whatever transgender or anything like that … but it’s ridiculous!”
Patel didn’t seem to really know anything about what took place and wouldn’t state why employees are being forced to use them.
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