Glossary: Some common (and uncommon) gender-neutral pronouns

The pronouns “he” and “she” refer to men and women, obviously. But a group of gender-neutral pronouns has sprung up, including “ze” or “per,” sometimes used in the transgender community or among those who don’t identify as male or female. Colleges including Harvard and American universities have allowed students to choose gender-neutral pronouns. Here’s a table of some common — and uncommon — alternatives to “he” and “she.”

Traditional (gender-binary) pronouns

she, her, hers

he, him, his

Gender-neutral pronouns Pronunciation
they, them, theirs (used as a singular pronoun)
ze, hir, hirs zhee, heer, heerz
ze, zir, zirs zhee, zheer, zheerz
xe, xem, xyr zhee, zhem, zheer
e, em, eirs ee, em, airs
per, per, pers
hu, hum, hus who, whom, whose

Source: Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools, the University of Tennessee

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