A Singular Pronoun Can Change the World

by Rachel Baker on February 4, 2015

Over the holiday season, I had a wonderful conversation about gender identity with someone I greatly respect. I don’t get to see her very often, and when I do, I always walk away with a feeling that I got just a little bit smarter and compassionate towards others because of our conversations. She lives in a place where people are way more open and accepting than where I live; and thusly, she has social experiences that I don’t have any basis for understanding.

I almost always spend the first couple months of every new year trying to educate myself more about something she and I talked about; and its completely worthwhile. I get a perspective I didn’t have and this new understanding causes me to see the world in ways I hadn’t considered.

Gender identity differences are worth trying to understand…so, here are two articles that discuss the pronoun ‘they,’ the proper uses of the singular meaning, and what some universities are doing to show respect for their students.

A University Recognizes a Third Gender: Neutral

For years, writers and academics have argued that gender identity is not a male/female binary but a continuum along which any individual may fall, depending on a variety of factors, including anatomy, chromosomes, hormones and feelings. But the dichotomy is so deeply embedded in our culture that even the most radical activists had been focused mainly on expanding the definitions of the two pre-existing categories.


How using ‘they’ as a singular pronoun can change the world

Hopefully, by now you know that calling people the pronouns they want to be called is a basic and necessary way to demonstrate respect for their identities. This includes learning to use non-binary pronouns, such as singular “they.”

But using singular they is far more than a way to respect friends who have gender identities outside the binary. Singular they has exciting potential to be part of a radical shift in the dominant gender culture. Changing the culture may seem like a mighty task for one little pronoun. But actually, it wouldn’t be the first time that a pronoun was near the center of a momentous cultural shift.

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to follow on Twitter.

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