They/Them Pronouns: A History and How-To
Wondering more about “they/them” pronouns?
Did you know that there is a long history of gender neutrality and pronoun exploration? The gender "norms" we know today are the product of 19th century socialization.
“They” is a grammatically correct gender-neutral pronoun—it has been used by famous writers including Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and even in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
You probably already use singular “they” without even thinking about it; for example, “someone left their bag here... I hope they come back to pick it up.”
Because we already use “they” when referring to a person of unknown gender, it can be quite easy to adapt when referring to those who use “they/them” pronouns.
Having a tough time remembering and learning? Practice!
Using their pronouns as you think about the person and with others are great ways to start practicing.
And if you do mess up their pronouns on accident, quickly apologize (“oh, sorry!”) and restate the sentence with correct pronouns.
Things to remember: grammar still applies: “they are shopping” not “they is shopping.”