Gender Neutral Sir/Ma'am

Is there such a thing in the RAFAC?

Maybe their rank?


The only issue I ever find with ranks is when cadets don’t know staff members and meet them in civvies (camps/weekends/sports etc)

Would anyone object to being called “staff” in this situation until they know who you are? I don’t and it fixes the Sir/Ma’am problem in the only situation I could think of that they couldn’t use rank.

It causes issues in the ACF but that is not our problem.

Ask them?


I think given that we have ranks, we don’t need to use gender neutrals.

I would also say the person who has decided they want to be addressed by gender neutrals will have already made this clear.

No harm in asking. No point making a problem where there isn’t one.


Don’t disagree with this in the slightest, it would be my first thing to do.

I was more thinking in situations where people want to be polite but don’t have time to stop and ask for names and ranks.

I couldn’t care less when they don’t know who I am but we all know people out there who do and would make a huge fuss…

No, there isn’t. Bit odd for an organisation that claims to be progressive and all that.

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Again, have you heard of calling people by their rank? They’re gender neutral, and advertised on the clothing.


Personally, I’d consider “staff” (in this form) rude. I can’t really justify why though.

So would I, I would expect those who don’t know to go with Sir/Ma’am in the first instance. Apart from little Hitlers no one is going to complain about being called by a higher honorific than they are entitled to. (They would of course then correctly, but it can be done without criticism).

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Yes, I have, but it is clearly not directly equivalent to Sir/Ma’am. We also don’t have a standard approach or any guidance about what to do in these situations.

We could go ‘Star Trek’ and call everyone Sir regardless…

I seem to recall everyone said Sir to Capt Janeway


There doesn’t need to be. You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.

Example - I walk into a room and speak to Squadron Leader Joe Bloggs.
Me- ‘Good evening, Sir’.
Them - ‘Good evening, Valiant. Please don’t take this as criticism but I’d prefer to be called Squadron Leader or Ma’am or (input literally anything appropriate)’
Me - ‘No problem, I will remember that from now on.’

There really doesn’t need to be guidance for this.


I disagree :man_shrugging:. Anytime you specify something that happens for male/female and exclude non-binary people you are excluding people.

My point still stands hence the (insert anything appropriate here).

If said person tells me they want to be referred to as ‘they/them’ then fine. However in a large organisation such as this, we refer to people by their ranks or as Sir/Ma’am until they tell us different because unless you know them already, then you simply won’t know.

Unless you’re saying we shouldn’t have Sir/Ma’am at all, which then @Baldrick point stands and we use the ranks on the shoulder. This really doesn’t need to be made into an issue.


You are essentially saying common sense should prevail, and while I agree with that, I am more than sure in the real world that won’t always happen. There are still a lot of misinformed CFAVs when it comes to lgbtq+. A bit of inclusion to suggest not everyone will fall into sir/ma’am when teaching about ranks is all that’s needed.

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I understand your sentiment and I fully agree that common sense is not always as common as it should be.

Nevertheless, it really is down to the individual to speak and say ‘I’m not comfortable being referred to as Sir/Ma’am, please call me (insert rank or appropriate title)’.

Some extra guidance/education is never a bad thing but it really is down to the individual in question. Unless you know that person already, you won’t know whether Sir/Ma’am is inappropriate until they tell you. The only way to get round a one off possible offending incident is a blanket ban on Sir/Ma’am altogether.


However surely this is an area where we are still bound by the parent services way of doing things?

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in the ‘Real World’ people do not get offended by initial contact being wrong, and will politely correct the terms, they will not become attention seeking mountain builders. Yes back on planet earth I have got peoples termss wrong but not met anyone offended, but no doubt there will be a first time.


I can’t agree with @Valiant and @WellIbedammed more…those who are not sir/ma’am will raise a hand and let the person know their preference not expect someone to know…

And as for a default gender neutral term I feel that is over correcting an issue.

The use of rank is not that unusual when used as a title and see no issue with someone nonbinary requesting to be addressed by rank only…it is how we address medical Doctors which is a title and form of address which is gender neutral…