The AP Style Guide Now Recognizes Non-Binary Gender Pronouns

The AP Style Guide Now Recognizes Non-Binary Gender Pronouns

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The Associated Press Style Guide, a grammar and usage manual widely used by writers and journalists, now recognizes the use of pronouns for people of non-binary gender.

Formerly, the style guide forbade the use of “they” as a singular pronoun, as in sentences like “If the driver isn’t careful, they might get into an accident.” Editors considered the practice incorrect, even though it’s normal in everyday speech.

But now, the AP Style Guide is permitting the use of singular “they” for people of non-binary gender.

The style guide now reads:

In stories about people who identify as neither male nor female or ask not to be referred to as he/she/him/her: Use the person’s name in place of a pronoun, or otherwise reword the sentence, whenever possible. If they/them/their use is essential, explain in the text that the person prefers a gender-neutral pronoun. Be sure that the phrasing does not imply more than one person.

The style guide does not recognize genderless pronouns like “xe” or “ze.”

But still, this is a major sign of progress, both for LGBTQ rights and for linguistics. Grammar mavens have resisted singular “they” for centuries. It takes a lot to change their minds.

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