Preferred gender pronoun

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A preferred gender pronoun or a personal gender pronoun (often abbreviated as PGP) is one of the third-person pronouns that an individual prefers that others use to identify that person's gender (or lack thereof). Declaration of preferred gender pronouns often proceeds in English as the subject pronoun, object pronoun, and possessive pronoun. For example, "he, him, his", "she, her, hers", or "they, them, theirs".

PGPs have come into use as a way of promoting equity and inclusion for transgender and genderqueer people.[1][2] The use of such has been identified by social workers,[3] educators,[4] and medical professionals[5][6][7] as both a practical and ethical consideration. Style guides and associations of journalists and health professionals advise use of the pronoun preferred or considered appropriate by the person in question.[8][9][10] When dealing with clients or patients, health practitioners are advised to take note of the pronouns used by the individuals themselves,[11] which may involve using different pronouns at different times.[12][13] This is also extended to the name preferred by the person concerned.[14][15] LGBTQ advocacy groups also advise using the pronouns and names preferred or considered appropriate by the person concerned.[16] They further recommend avoiding gender confusion when referring to the background of transgender people, such as using a title or rank to avoid a gendered pronoun or name.[17] The dean of women at Pomona College, Rachel N. Levin, advised against professors asking students to reveal their PGPs during class introductions due to the risk of upsetting the very people the PGP use is supposed to support.[18]

There exists some disagreement on whether or not to refer to PGPs as "preferred" or not. Some people omit "preferred", calling them "gender pronouns" or simply "pronouns" to emphasize that correct use of pronouns is a social obligation rather than an individual preference. They fear that including "preferred" in the name may cause some people to think that using an individual's PGPs is optional.[19] Those who retain "preferred" point to a parallel with "preferred names" or as a way of affirming the individual's agency or right to choose their own pronouns.

Impact on mental health[edit]

The National Center for Transgender Equality's 2015 transgender survey in the United States found higher rates of suicidal ideation and suicide attempt rates in the transgender community. Results indicated that 40% of the transgender individuals surveyed had attempted suicide in their lifetime, a rate nearly nine times higher than the rates for the general U.S. population.[20] A 2012 research survey of 129 transgender youths found that those who were able to use their chosen names reported fewer depressive symptoms and less suicidal behavior. [21][22]


  1. ^ Donatone, Brooke; Rachlin, Katherine (2013-07-01). "An Intake Template for Transgender, Transsexual, Genderqueer, Gender Nonconforming, and Gender Variant College Students Seeking Mental Health Services". Journal of College Student Psychotherapy. 27 (3): 200–211. doi:10.1080/87568225.2013.798221. ISSN 8756-8225.
  2. ^ Riggs, Damien W.; Due, Clemence (2015-07-01). "Support Experiences and Attitudes of Australian Parents of Gender Variant Children". Journal of Child and Family Studies. 24 (7): 1999–2007. doi:10.1007/s10826-014-9999-z. ISSN 1573-2843.
  3. ^ Markman, Erin R. (2011-10-01). "Gender Identity Disorder, the Gender Binary, and Transgender Oppression: Implications for Ethical Social Work". Smith College Studies in Social Work. 81 (4): 314–327. doi:10.1080/00377317.2011.616839. ISSN 0037-7317.
  4. ^ Nishida, Akemi; Fine, Michelle (2014-01-02). "Creating Classrooms of and for Activism at the Intersections of Class, Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Disability". Multicultural Perspectives. 16 (1): 8–11. doi:10.1080/15210960.2013.867237. ISSN 1521-0960.
  5. ^ Deutsch, Madeline B.; Buchholz, David (2015-06-01). "Electronic Health Records and Transgender Patients—Practical Recommendations for the Collection of Gender Identity Data". Journal of General Internal Medicine. 30 (6): 843–847. doi:10.1007/s11606-014-3148-7. ISSN 1525-1497. PMC 4441683. PMID 25560316.
  6. ^ Cahill, Sean; Makadon, Harvey J. (2014-07-02). "Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Data Collection Update: U.S. Government Takes Steps to Promote Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Data Collection Through Meaningful Use Guidelines". LGBT Health. 1 (3): 157–160. doi:10.1089/lgbt.2014.0033. ISSN 2325-8292. PMID 26789707.
  7. ^ Rosenthal, Stephen M.; Ehrensaft, Diane; Vance, Stanley R. (2014-12-01). "Psychological and Medical Care of Gender Nonconforming Youth". Pediatrics. 134 (6): 1184–1192. doi:10.1542/peds.2014-0772. ISSN 0031-4005. PMID 25404716.
  8. ^ Division of Public Affairs (September 2011). "Style Guide" (PDF). Vanderbilt University. p. 34. Retrieved 2013-09-17. Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth.
  9. ^ Associated Press (2015). "transgender". The Associated Press Stylebook 2015. ISBN 9780465097937. Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth. If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly.
  10. ^ Sponsored by the American Medical Association and The Fenway Health with unrestricted support from Fenway Health and Pfizer. "Meeting the Health Care Needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) People: The End to LGBT Invisibility" (PowerPoint Presentation). The Fenway Institute. p. 24. Retrieved 2013-09-17. Use the pronoun that matches the person's gender identity
  11. ^ Elizondo, Paul M. III, D.O.; Wilkinson, Willy, M.P.H.; Daley, Christopher, M.D. (13 November 2015). "Working With Transgender Persons". Phychiatric Times. Retrieved 2013-09-17. If you are not sure which pronoun to use, you can ask the patient
  12. ^ "Glossary of Gender and Transgender Terms" (PDF). Fenway Health. January 2010. pp. 2 and 5. Retrieved 2015-11-13. listen to your clients – what terms do they use to describe themselves... Pronoun preference typically varies, including alternately using male or female pronouns using the pronoun that matches the gender presentation at that time.
  13. ^ "Competencies for Counseling with Transgender Clients" (PDF). Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Counseling. 18 September 2009. p. 3. honor the set of pronouns that clients select and use them throughout the counseling process
  14. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions on Trans Identity" (PDF). Common Ground – Trans Etiquette. University of Richmond. Retrieved 2013-09-17. Use the correct name and pronoun- Most names and pronouns are gendered. It's important to be considerate of one's gender identity by using the pronouns of the respective gender pronouns [sic] , or gender-‐neutral pronouns, they use
  15. ^ Glicksman, Eve (April 2013). "Transgender terminology: It's complicated". Vol 44, No. 4: American Psychological Association. p. 39. Retrieved 2013-09-17. Use whatever name and gender pronoun the person prefers
  16. ^ "Transgender FAQ". Resources. Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved 2013-09-17. should be identified with their preferred pronoun
  17. ^ "NAMES, PRONOUN USAGE & DESCRIPTIONS" (PDF). GLAAD Media Reference Guide. GLAAD. May 2010. p. 11. Retrieved 2013-09-17. It is usually best to report on transgender people's stories from the present day instead of narrating them from some point or multiple points in the past, thus avoiding confusion and potentially disrespectful use of incorrect pronouns.
  18. ^ "Why asking students their preferred pronoun is not a good idea (opinion) | Inside Higher Ed". Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  19. ^ Gender Pronouns. Trans Student Educational Resources Retrieved 12 November 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^ James, Sandy E.; Herman, Jody L.; Rankin, Susan; Keisling, Mara; Mottet, Lisa; Anafi, Ma'ayan (December 2016). "The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey" (PDF). National Center for Transgender Equality.
  21. ^ Russell, Stephen T.; Pollitt, Amanda M.; Li, Gu; Grossman, Arnold H. (October 2018). "Chosen Name Use is Linked to Reduced Depressive Symptoms, Suicidal Ideation, and Suicidal Behavior Among Transgender Youth". Journal of Adolescent Health. 63 (4): 503–505. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2018.02.003. PMID 29609917.
  22. ^ Pollitt, Amanda M.; Ioverno, Salvatore; Russell, Stephen T.; Li, Gu; Grossman, Arnold H. (June 2019). "Predictors and Mental Health Benefits of Chosen Name Use Among Transgender Youth". Youth & Society. doi:10.1177/0044118X19855898.