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If sources share a transgender or gender-nonconforming identity on the record, ask which pronouns they use and incorporate them into your report as needed. They/them/their are acceptable as singular, gender-neutral pronouns if the subject uses them. Alternative gender-neutral pronouns, such as zie/zim/zis, are acceptable if requested but may require extra explanation in a story or broadcast.

Use of they as a singular pronoun has become common enough that it should not require explanation in a story. Journalists should use their judgment and consult with their sources, when possible, on whether a passage containing a gender-neutral pronoun needs to be recast for clarity, whether it makes sense to explain the pronoun in the story, and whether it would dishonor the story subject to avoid using pronouns.

For example, the meaning of the sentence Robert Sanchez, a member of the group of environmentalists, said they disagree with points of the organization’s mission hinges on whether they refers to Sanchez or environmentalists. The options for recasting would depend on the context available to the journalist and on the story’s audience.

Some people use multiple pronouns, such as she/they or he/she/they. Especially in longer pieces, look for ways to incorporate both or all a person’s pronouns without confusing the reader; don’t automatically default to one unless the person agrees to it.

Avoid references to preferred pronouns because doing so implies that calling people other than what they want to be called is a viable alternative. Avoid references to chosen pronouns because they are not always chosen. Instead, when relevant: Sanchez, who uses the pronoun they or Sanchez, whose pronouns are they/them/their.

Updated September 2023