What does it mean when someone's pronouns are "she/they" or "he/they"?

…we’re monitoring public restrooms and are confident we’ll apprehend the perpetrator shortly."

Well said!

This, for some of us. Gendered pronouns cause so much heartache and trouble, and it’s so unnecessary. We don’t use different pronouns based on age, or wealth, or stature, or race, or anything else (well I guess being the British monarch, but that’s another issue). Why have gendering (and therefore misgendering) built into most sentences? I wish gendered pronouns would just go away. So just call me…

Rather frustratingly, the article doesn’t mention what pronoun she was using before she changed it. However, apparently in her bio on Twitter she is still using “xo.”

In my case, partly that, and partly that if people aren’t looking at me they often assume the male pronouns apply, and they don’t. Any individual instance of this I only find mildly annoying (though the person who used to call repeatedly and insist on talking to “Mr.” Mylastname was extremely annoying; I think and hope they’ve given up); but I find the background assumption, which must be either that all farmers are male or that male is the default, to be worth correcting.

Well, to be fair, if everyone used the same pronoun, pronouns would be much less useful. At least with two singular pronouns we can distinguish between two subsets of the population. Or could, before we realized gender wasn’t as binary as we thought.

Powers &8^]

Yes; in highlighting the change to “she/they” they didn’t explain which part actually changed, or why it was notable.

Powers &8^]

That’s a fairly small part of the usefulness of pronouns; and it isn’t useful in any case in which more than one person of the same gender’s involved, but we seem to manage in those cases anyway.

Yes, “she/they” would be the usual pronouns for someone who presents as female, as Halsey does. So without knowing what she used before it’s a bit mysterious.

Moreover, it doesn’t apply at all in the many languages that don’t have gendered pronouns. In Hindi, for example, you have pronoun forms distinguishing between “this one” and “that one”, between singular and plural, and between formal and familiar, but not between masculine and feminine.

Wouldn’t the usual pronouns be she/her?

Powers &8^]

As long as there are multiple pronouns, and you can tell who gets which ones, it doesn’t much matter what the exact division is.

Powers &8^]

I’ll admit, if one is already using “she,” I’m not sure why you wouldn’t use “her” as well.

But again, when the division isn’t there, we manage just fine.

Conversations or writing about groups of people who are all the same gender are common. Describing interactions among a dozen women or a dozen men? We do that sort of thing all the time. I’ve read entire books in which nearly all the characters – sometimes all of them – are the same gender.

Excuse me for being really slow but I still don’t understand just what ‘she/they’ is intended to mean. Knowing that this person, regardless of what sex/gender whatever that person had been called, would I now refer to the person as

she is a good person.
they is a good person
she/they is a good person

Sorry if this sounds really stupid but I just want to know what to use as a pronoun and I am confused by the slashed description.

  1. It means that the person feels that “she” or “they” are both acceptable pronouns to use for them
  2. If you use “they” as a pronoun when referring to one person, it still would always still take a plural verb
  3. No, you would not use “she/they” together, with a slash, when referring to them. Use one or the other, but not both simultaneously.

So I would say “they are a good person.” That sounds all wrong to my ears so I’ll just go for She is.

If you were using “they” to refer to one person, whose gender was unknown to you, you’d still use “are,” not “is,” would you not? As in, “I don’t know who backed into my car in the parking lot, but whoever they are, they are in big trouble!” Same thing here.

And, if the person prefers only the use of “they” (as my niece did, for several years, as a teenager), it’s still “are,” even if it feels weird to your ears. As per Merriam-Webster:

Thanks, I think I got it, at least for the most basic question as just how the slash fits in.

I am NOT going to wonder how I would act at a party at this person’s house, telling someone to ask her or them to get me a beer!

Potentially there could be some utility in having the pronouns resolve uncertainty when the possible people it refers to are of clearly different gender. But it’s ugly! To the extent that it doesn’t immediately strike us as ugly, that’s only because we’re so accustomed to it.

Let me give a different example. It happens that I am white. What if I proposed that we used different pronouns for people who are white and people whose ethnicity is something other than white? Just like separating pronouns by gender, separating them by whiteness may happen to be useful in some cases (I reject your “much less useful” but have to acknowledge that in some cases gendered pronouns resolve some uncertainty).

See how ugly that is? Making the pronoun contingent on some characteristic promotes the underlying assumption that that characteristic is important or significant. It signals to everybody that we are building into the situation a mechanism to consider and treat categories of people differently. Besides, for people whom we may incorrectly identify category, or people who don’t consider themselves neatly fitting inside the categories we are investing in, using the pronoun is downright abusive, and the grammatical requirement induces this abuse even in situations it otherwise wouldn’t have come up.

Why does that occasional tactical usefulness make the obligatory pigeonholing of people into demographic groups worth doing? Especially in a society where demographic identities are so often used to put people at various kinds of disadvantage???