Preferred gender pronoun

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Four pin-on metal badges with labels "He Him", "She Her", "They Them", and "Ask Me!"
A set of four badges, which conference attenders might choose to wear.[1]

Preferred gender pronouns or personal gender pronouns (often abbreviated as PGP) refer to the set of pronouns (in English, third-person pronouns) that an individual prefers that others use in order to reflect that person's gender identity. In English, when declaring one's preferred pronouns, a person will often state the subject, object, and possessive pronouns—for example, "she, her, hers", "he, him, his", or "they, them, theirs"—although sometimes, only the subject and object pronouns are stated ("he, him", "she, her", "they, them"). The pronouns preferred may include non-traditional ones such as "ze" and "zir".


PGPs have come into use as a way of promoting equity and inclusion for transgender and genderqueer people.[2][3] The use of such has been identified by social workers,[4] educators,[5] and medical professionals[6][7][8] 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.[9][10][11] When dealing with clients or patients, health practitioners are advised to take note of the pronouns used by the individuals themselves,[12] which may involve using different pronouns at different times.[13][14] This is also extended to the name preferred by the person concerned.[15][16] LGBTQ advocacy groups also advise using the pronouns and names preferred or considered appropriate by the person concerned.[17] 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.[18]


The dean of women at Pomona College, Rachel N. Levin, advised against professors asking students to reveal their PGPs during class introductions, since this could upset those whom the PGP use is supposed to support. The two examples Levin gives include one student who has to confront not passing (in other words, that their gender presentation is not clear to people around them), and another student who does not know which pronouns to request others to use.[19] The British LGBT charity Stonewall also advises caution on the grounds that for a variety of reasons some cisgender and transgender people may not feel comfortable with the practice; they say it should be encouraged but not mandated in email signatures and at meetings.[20]


There exists some disagreement on whether or not to refer to PGPs as "preferred". Some people omit the word "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.[21] Levin states that "pronouns aren’t "preferred" but simply correct or incorrect for someone’s identity."[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. Instead of saying "What are your preferred pronouns?" one may ask "What pronouns do you use?" or "What are your pronouns?"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Gender identity badges created by council". BBC News. 8 March 2018. Archived from the original on 11 September 2018. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 2019-03-22. Retrieved 2019-05-05.
  9. ^ Division of Public Affairs (September 2011). "Style Guide" (PDF). Vanderbilt University. p. 34. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2010-02-17. 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.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "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. Archived from the original on 2013-10-20. Retrieved 2013-09-17. Use the pronoun that matches the person's gender identity
  12. ^ Elizondo, Paul M. III, D.O.; Wilkinson, Willy, M.P.H.; Daley, Christopher, M.D. (13 November 2015). "Working With Transgender Persons". Psychiatric Times. Archived from the original on 2015-03-21. Retrieved 2013-09-17. If you are not sure which pronoun to use, you can ask the patient
  13. ^ "Glossary of Gender and Transgender Terms" (PDF). Fenway Health. January 2010. pp. 2 and 5. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-11-17. 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.
  14. ^ "Competencies for Counseling with Transgender Clients" (PDF). Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Counseling. 18 September 2009. p. 3. Archived (PDF) from the original on 3 May 2019. Retrieved 6 May 2019. honor the set of pronouns that clients select and use them throughout the counseling process
  15. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions on Trans Identity" (PDF). Common Ground – Trans Etiquette. University of Richmond. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2013-10-22. 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
  16. ^ Glicksman, Eve (April 2013). "Transgender terminology: It's complicated". Vol 44, No. 4: American Psychological Association. p. 39. Archived from the original on 2013-09-25. Retrieved 2013-09-17. Use whatever name and gender pronoun the person prefersCS1 maint: location (link)
  17. ^ "Transgender FAQ". Resources. Human Rights Campaign. Archived from the original on 2013-09-08. Retrieved 2013-09-17. should be identified with their preferred pronoun
  18. ^ "NAMES, PRONOUN USAGE & DESCRIPTIONS" (PDF). GLAAD Media Reference Guide. GLAAD. May 2010. p. 11. Archived from the original on 2012-06-03. 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.
  19. ^ a b "Why asking students their preferred pronoun is not a good idea (opinion)". Inside Higher Ed. Archived from the original on 2019-05-06. Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  20. ^ "International Pronouns Day". Stonewall. 14 October 2019. Archived from the original on 16 October 2019. Retrieved 18 April 2020. Including pronouns in e-mail signatures should be encouraged, but not be made compulsory as not everyone may feel comfortable sharing their pronouns. There are many different reasons for this and it may be true for both cis and trans staff. (This should also be remembered when verbally introducing pronouns at the start of meetings.)
  21. ^ "Gender Pronouns". Trans Student Educational Resources. Archived from the original on 12 November 2019. Retrieved 12 November 2019.