Proper gender pronoun usage


Jordan Van Vranken - Staff Writer, Photo courtesy of Liberty News

As the world becomes rightfully more open-minded toward people identifying with the transgender and non-binary communities, some may struggle with what pronouns to use when addressing anyone transitioning to the opposite gender. One should use the language appropriate to the gender with which the person in question identifies. But, when in doubt, politely ask. Asking someone which pronouns he or she prefers to be addressed by is completely appropriate.

Transgender persons often ask that they be referred to by a different-gendered pronoun, as this can be a large part of coming into one’s identity. New singular pronouns have been invented for those who may not want to be called ‘he’ or ‘she’; ‘ze’ and ‘hir’ are the most common, but plural pronouns such as ‘they’ or ‘them’ can also be used to refer to a single person. Spivak pronouns, a group of gender-neutral pronouns, are becoming increasingly popular. For transgender individuals who prefer ‘he’ or ‘she’, address them with the gender they identify with, not their born gender.

Having a conversation without using pronouns is nearly impossible, and calling someone a ‘he-she’ or a ‘tranny’ is not politically or socially correct. Therefore, inquiring about what pronouns a transgender person prefers is extremely important. Opening this discussion and improving education on this topic is how the world will reach acceptance and tolerance towards these communities.