Gender-Neutral / Nonbinary Pronouns

Lisa Cai Newcomer Information

What is a pronoun?
  • A pronoun is a word that can replace a noun or noun phrase. For example, I, me, he, she, herself, you, it, that, they, etc.;
  • We live in a society where we are used to 2 sets of gender pronouns – she/her and he/him.
What is Gender-Neutral  / Nonbinary Pronoun?
  • These are pronouns that don’t specify whether a person is female or male;
  • We cannot always know what someone’s pronouns are by looking at them;
  • Gender-neutral or nonbinary pronouns have only become more commonplace in recent years.
Why is it important to respect someone’s pronoun?
  • We cannot assume someone’s gender identity (someone’s internal sense of whether they’re male or female, both, or neither)
  • It is important to show our respect for someone’s gender identity. Using the wrong pronouns on someone can make them feel hurt and disrespected.
What Gender-Neutral  / Nonbinary Pronouns are some commonly used?
  1. They/them/theirs:
  • Yes, they/them/theirs can be used in the singular. Many people don’t know about this, but it was popular throughout the history of literature.
  • In September 2019, Merriam-Webster’s dictionary added a new definition for they: used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary.
  • They/them/theirs are popular because it’s easy for people to accept as they are commonly used in our everyday speech
  1. Ze/hir/hir:
  • These are called “neopronouns” (new pronouns);
  • Ze is pronounced like “zee” and can also be spelled as zie or xe;
  • Hir is pronounced like “here”.
  1. Examples
  • Traditional he/his or she/her: Alex ate his/her bread because he/she was hungry.
  • They/them/theirs: Alex ate their bread because they were hungry.
  • Ze/hir/hir: Alex ate hir bread because ze was hungry.

An organization in the US called FORGE has put up together a chart of traditional and gender-neutral pronouns.

Want to learn more?

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Word of the Day:

Commonplace: ordinary, not unusual