She/her/hers and he/him/his are a few commonly used pronouns. Some people call these “feminine” and “masculine” pronouns, but many people avoid these labels because not everyone who uses he/him/his feels “masculine” and not everyone who uses she/her/hers feels “feminine”.
There are also lots of other pronouns in use, some of them more gender neutral. Here are a few you might hear:
- They/them/theirs (“Shea ate their food because they were hungry.”) This is a pretty common gender-neutral pronoun and it can be used in the singular. Singular “they” is not a new concept to English speakers – singular they is often used if we do not know the person we are talking about (“Who called you? What did they want?”)
- Ze/hir/hir (“Tyler ate hir food because ze was hungry.”) Ze is pronounced like “zee” can also be spelled zie or xe, and replaces she/he/they. Hir is pronounced like “here” and replaces her/hers/him/his/they/theirs.
- Per/per/pers (“Kyla ate per food because per were hungry.”) Think of it as a shortened version of “person”.
- It/it/its (“Alex ate its food because it was hungry.”) It was previously thought that these pronouns could only be offensive when used, but as long as you are not misgendering someone by using it/it/its, these are valid pronouns for someone to use.
- Just my name please! (Ash ate Ash’s food because Ash was hungry) Some people prefer not to use pronouns at all, using their name instead of a pronoun.
Some people also use more than one set of pronouns. This can be denoted as “they/she” or “they/them/theirs and she/her/hers”. When someone uses multiple sets of pronouns, it could mean that they are okay with either one being used, or that they accept both, but have a preference towards the one that is listed first. If you have any questions, respectfully ask the person! A person of any gender can use multiple sets of pronouns.
Purposefully misgendering (using the wrong pronouns, ignoring someone’s pronouns in use, or using incorrect gendered language for someone) is offensive and disrespectful to anyone, but especially to trans and gender non-confirming individuals.