This is a tutorial to increase familiarity with they/them pronouns. It is focused on using they/them pronouns for people who are gender non-conforming or nonbinary.
It is designed to incorporate both why and how to use they/them pronouns. It includes:
- definitions and background information
- examples of grammar and syntax
- an exercise for gender reflection
It is designed for friends, family members, peers, coworkers, and professionals who are seeking to gain greater awareness of how to show respect for gender non-conforming or nonbinary people who use they/them pronouns. It incorporates both popular and academic materials and emphasizes materials created by individuals who identify as gender non-conforming or nonbinary.
Why This Tutorial Matters
One-third of the approximately 28,000 respondents to the 2015 U.S. Transgender survey identified as nonbinary.
More recently, a 2020 survey through The Trevor Project of young people age 13 to 24 found that, “25% of LGBTQ youth use they/them exclusively, a combination of he/him, she/her, or they/them, or neopronouns such as ze/zir or fae/faer,” and that 5% of the 40,000 survey respondents exclusively used they/them pronouns. Responses highlighted the impact of using the correct pronouns when addressing people or talking about them. Analysis of survey responses revealed that, “TGNB (transgender and gender nonbinary) youth who reported having their pronouns respected by all or most of the people in their lives attempted suicide at half the rate of those who did not have their pronouns respected.”
According to the Pew Research Center, 18% of adults know someone who uses gender neutral pronouns.
Becoming familiar with the use of they/them pronouns and the concepts behind pronoun usage will create opportunities for more adroit dialogue and removes the burden of explanation from individuals who use they/them pronouns. This tutorial will help you build understanding and skills that convey recognition and respect when you encounter people who use gender neutral pronouns.
A Note About Language
Gender non-conforming and nonbinary are terms utilized in this tutorial for a wide span of identities that may use gender neutral pronouns (not all gender non-conforming or nonbinary people do!). At times, materials included discuss being nonbinary as being transgender, but this is not how all nonbinary or gender non-conforming people identify.
While many gender neutral pronouns exist, this tutorial focuses specifically on they/them. Some people who do not identify as gender non-conforming or nonbinary also use gender neutral pronouns to refer to themselves. This tutorial contains some practice on pronoun usage, but heavily founds the use of they/them pronouns in the lived experiences of gender non-conforming and nonbinary people.
This tutorial is focused on the English language, but please remember that other languages are being modified to include gender neutral forms of address and some cultures, including Indigenous cultures, have always used terms that are inclusive of broad and complex forms of gender belonging.
To begin, click through to the next page – Identities.
(This tutorial was updated in October of 2020. A previous version of the tutorial is available in the WayBack Machine.)