Language Around Gender and Identity Evolves (and Always Has)

Dictionaries and grammar "rules" don't have the final word on language -- and believing they do can harm more than help, especially for the trans community. Sociolinguist Archie Crowley deconstructs three common myths around language, demonstrating how it's a fluid system that naturally evolves in the direction of inclusion.

How to Talk (and Listen) to Transgender People

Gender should be the least remarkable thing about someone, but transgender people are still too often misunderstood. To help those who are scared to ask questions or nervous about saying the wrong thing, Jackson Bird shares a few ways to think about trans issues. And in this funny, frank talk, he clears up a few misconceptions about pronouns, transitioning, bathrooms and more.

What are Pronouns?

"Pronouns are linguistic tools that we use to refer to people.  (i.e. they/them/theirs, she/her/hers, he/him/his). We believe that it is important to give people the opportunity to state the pronoun that is correct to use when referring to them.

Pronouns are integral to who we are, and we share pronouns because we want to avoid assuming someone's pronouns based on factors like appearance. By sharing our own pronouns routinely, we encourage others to do the same and demonstrate that we understand the importance of sharing pronouns. Using someone’s correct pronouns is an important way of affirming someone’s identity and is a fundamental step in being an ally."

The chart below outlines many (but not all) of the pronouns used by people today. See more at UC Davis' LGBTQIA Resource Center.

____ laughed. Ask ____! That's ____ pen. That pen's ____. Did ____ enjoy____ ?
co co cos cos coself
en en ens ens enself
ey em eir eirs emself
he him his his himself
she her her hers herself
they them their theirs themself
xie hir ("here") hir hirs hirself
yo you yos yos yoself
ze zir zir zirs zirself
ve vis ver ver verself

Source: UC Davis, LGBTQIA Resource Center

How you could ask:

“What pronouns do you use?”

“What pronouns would you like me to use?”                

  How you could share:

  “I’m Jade and my pronouns are ze and hir.”

  “Leo, I prefer they and them, but he is fine too.”

  “My pronoun is co.”


An Ally's Guide to Terminology by GLAAD and MAP

The respectful terminology for gay, bisexual, and lesbian related topics are outlined
The respectful terminology for transgender related topics are outlined
The respectful terminology for topics related to LGBT equality are outlined
The respectful terminology for talking about marriage for LGBT couples are outlined
The respectful terminology for topics related to LGBT parents are outlined
The respectful terminology for topics related to LGBT non-discrimination laws and open military service are outlined