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A preferred pronoun is a pronoun an individual would like people to use in reference to them. A preferred pronoun may be one matching an individual’s birth gender, atypical for the birth gender, or gender neutral.
Preferred pronoun may also be called a preferred gender pronoun. This longer synonym may be shortened to the acronym PGP.
The preferred pronouns for cisgender people are those that match their birth genders. That is, cisgender men prefer he, his, and him. Cisgender women prefer she, her, and hers.
Transgender people, intersex people, and people with other gender identities that fall outside the traditional binary may have different preferred pronouns. Some people prefer others use the pronouns traditionally associated with the gender identity they present as, even if it does not match their birth gender. Others prefer more gender-neutral pronouns like they, them, theirs, ze, hir, hirs, ve, ver, virs, xe, xem, and xyr. These modern gender-neutral pronouns are generally preferred to outdated terms like it or he-she.
Some people reject pronouns altogether as they feel they are impersonal. Instead they prefer to be referred to using their name only.
If someone isn’t addressed by their preferred pronoun, they may feel alienated, invalidated, dismissed, experience gender dysphoria, or feel oppressed by social norms.
It’s a good idea to ask people what their preferred pronouns are to avoid offense since it’s not always apparent simply by looking at them. This simple question shows respect for a person’s gender identity. Once you know someone’s preferred pronouns, you should use them consistently, at least until it’s apparent you should change them. You should also encourage others to do the same.
While most people’s preferred pronouns will not change, they sometimes do. This may occur for a gender fluid person. A transsexual person may also have a different preferred pronoun during different stages of gender transition.