For Him, For Her, For Them

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For Him, For Her, For Them

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The word nonbinary refers to people who do not feel attached to being either male or female. People who use this label often go by neutral pronouns, or they/them. With LGBT+ identities becoming more widely accepted, more people are coming out as identifying with new labels for old feelings. This is a good development.

Language adapts to those who use it. Words fade in and out of style with generations and those who refuse to adapt will be left behind. For example, slang fades out within a generation.

According to a 2018 Washington Post article, “Sorry, grammar nerds. The singular ‘they’ has been declared ‘Word of the Year’” by Jeff Guo, “Singular ‘they’… is already a common habit in American speech. An example: ‘Everyone wants their cat to succeed.’ Earlier, the so-called proper way to say it would have been, ‘Everyone wants his or her cat to succeed.’ But what gave this word new prominence was its usefulness as a way to refer to people who do not want to be called ‘he’ or ‘she’.”

Despite popular belief, using the singular ‘they’ in a sentence is grammatically correct, and people do it all the time. Although it seems like a new development, it has been used in its singular form for years.

According to a 2018 Teen Vogue article “All your questions about gender-neutral pronouns answered” by Desmond Meagley and Youth Radio, “Major dictionaries have recognized singular they as grammatically correct for years, including the Oxford English Dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary and dictionary.com. The word “they” has been used as a singular pronoun since at least the 16th century, and some argue it goes back even earlier. We are not making up new words and grammar here. The AP Style Guide has even started to allow the usage of singular they in cases where a subject doesn’t identify as male or female.”

Gender neutral pronouns are just as valid as gendered ones. The usage of them do not make speech awkward or clumsy, nor is it grammatically incorrect. Do not hide behind these excuses for bigotry.

Even if someone is not used to using the singular ‘they’, putting in effort to change their speech when speaking to or about those who do not wish to be gendered is showing them the respect that they deserve as a human being.

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