American Psychological Association endorses use of singular “They” pronoun

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The American Psychological Association (APA) now endorses the use of “they” as a singular pronoun. They are the latest major organization to provide style guidelines around “they,” meaning that scholars, writers, and scientists will be mandated to use they/them pronouns when needed within their professional and educational fields.

It’s just one step towards the legitimization and standardization of the singular “they” pronoun, validating those who use it as a gender-neutral option within a major medical context.

“This means it is officially good practice in scholarly writing to use the singular ‘they,’” APA’s Content Development Manager Chelsea Lee writes in an APA Style blog post. Style and grammar guidelines for use of the singular “they” now appear in the seventh edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association and the APA Style website.

APA is America’s largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists, with over 118,000 members. Its Publication Manual is followed by a vast amount of professionals, educators, and scholars, who work in the social or behavioral sciences, medical field, and other related fields.

APA Style would have previously accepted the use of the phrase “he or she” to indicate a gender-neutral subject; for example: “A person should enjoy his or her vacation.” But Lee writes that this usage “presumes that a person uses either the pronoun ‘he’ or the pronoun ‘she,’” which might not always be the case since some people use other pronouns such as “they,” “zir,” “ze,” and “xe,” among others. “When readers see a gendered pronoun, they make assumptions about the gender of the person being described,” Lee writes. “APA advocates for the singular ‘they’ because it is inclusive of all people and helps writers avoid making assumptions about gender.”

Read on…

Comments 9

  1. “A person should enjoy his or her vacation.” can easily be written as non gender as ” “A person should enjoy their vacation.” Using singular “they” pronoun does not make any grammatical sense and I personally would not take any professional, medical or psychology article seriously should they use it. It would bring doubt upon the accuracy of subject matter contained in their article.

  2. I’ve used the they/them/their singular pronoun for a little while now. I found that the waters were pretty muddy where it concerned gender identity in and out of the workplace, and decided to play it safe with the neutrality of it all. Overall, it’s served me well with a few hiccups along the way.

  3. Sadly, the more people talk about third pronouns and gender identity being whatever a person wants it to be, the more the left wing will lose to Trumpism. That’s because people need (and deserve) a concrete explanation: that there are some people biologically in between male and female. So long as gender is based on identity by itself, most people will not understand. And also, there are some people who say they are gender dysphoric, but who are not sufficiently gender conforming to warrant expecting other to call them a member of their preferred gender identity. Some of those people, who don’t want to be either gender (and call themselves non-binary), will use “they”, but some will prefer the pronouns of their preferred gender identity (just to make things confusing for the rest of us). To make it worse, there are completely horrible women who don’t want transgender females calling themselves women. And not to mention the transgender female athletes, equally blind, who say they ought to be able to compete against athletes of their new gender, as if a history of testosterone had no impact on their body. Someone has to start talking sense about gender or we’re all doomed to having the right wing fill the vacuum.

  4. Sorry, but the whole pronoun business has gotten out of hand. It was fine when it was trans folk seeking to be referred to as the gender they were transitioning into, but now every young person wants to make it impossible to know who’s being referred to unless you’re familiar with everyone present. I have a hard enough time remembering names, there’s no way I’m remembering pronouns too.

    I also have a problem with people presuming to dictate to me how I may and may not speak. I’ve never been a fan of political correctness and this is starting to hit in that exact same vein.

    So, if I cannot tell what pronouns to use by looking at you, do not expect me to use your preferred ones. For those that need a refresher on English: If you’re male or presenting as male it’s he/him, if you’re female or presenting as female it’s she/her, if there’s more then one of you it’s they/them. Under no circumstances will I be referring to another human as “it”… that’s just dehumanizing, degrading, and way too many people have fought NOT to be treated in that manner for me to ever start (and yes, I have had people request me to call them that). In the rare case that someone is so androgynous I cannot tell what to call them, I will refrain from pronouns until I’m certain.

  5. Is there no limit to the narcissism of gender benders? Now they want to pervert the language and make plural pronouns singular – just to suit their sensitivity. Fine. From now on, I shall refer to myself in the royal “we.”

    We are not amused by the APA’s preposterous decision. We are well aware that transgendered people often require a great deal of psychological support, and we feel that this move is just the shrinks’ way of sucking up to these fragile and vulnerable patients – to get and keep their business. We are unable to comply with their finding, and shall continue in the use of appropriate singular pronouns when addressing any individual. We further advise, that to keep it simple and avoid confusion, people should ‘look the part.’

  6. Forgive them for they know not what they do. [ KJV 1604 TO 1611 ]
    — IF it takes one this long for one to write the current language, then. cough up your ignorance. NON NUMBER and NON SEX and NON GENDER speaking and writing about people is as old as “— when some one takes one’ another’s wont to bed “. [ you. your, yours, my, mine, me, &c, please note, are absent from this quote from a book hundreds of years original old. ] [ “wont” not “want”, in original, also note. ]
    — Forgive THEM for THEY know not what THEY do.

    1. ” one’s another’s ” is the original. The book do lose … The original is from a copy do keep to show that these ” thesis ” eyes do see more than the English teach even feels the spines of.
      —Forgive them for they know not what they do.
      — 4 give dem 4 dey no not what day doooo [ why day invent indoor toil ha ha ha ha ha ].

      1. ” one’s another’s wont’s ” is the original. The auther is writing of a one to his one as a victor over quarry, each word also includes every body else, and, each word part of a letter of office. The treaty writing is different not of a know.
        — The biblical KJV “them” and “they” is not personal, not numeric, not sexual, not gender, and is all wise and in all ways NOT specific. That is also NOT by accident. The original is NOT by accident. Such all comes from Old Greek from such as be of Greek Jewish origin and such do write what becomes THE original The New Testament such as any be come to know of … which is very very gender specific and of very very definite sexual meaning and intent.
        EXCEPT for stuff like === Forgive them for they know not what they do.
        — The word ” them” and “they” is a very very old english and also roman and earlier way to say and write a YOU to each and every body.
        — please forgive my ignorance and sloppy typing. Do try here especially to get it ok.

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