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How Gender Pronouns Impact Essay Writing

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As the classic Bob Dylan song goes, “The Times They are a Changin’…” Such lyrics could not be truer in today’s world. Politics are polarized and heated debates surround human rights issues such as LGBTQ rights—including the changing use of gender pronouns.

Regardless of one’s personal perspective towards these changing social contexts, transforming gender pronouns signify a language evolution that influences academic essay writing.

If you are a student, it is important to stay current on gender pronoun standards for essay writing to ensure your papers are up to par and graded fairly.

In this post, we will cover everything you need to know about changing gender pronoun standards. We will also talk about how an essay writing service can help provide clarity, including:

  • Why and how gender pronouns are changing.
  • New societal and academic standards.
  • Why gender pronouns matter.
  • What this all means for academic essay writing.
  • How an essay writing service can help, and where to find a trustworthy essay writing service.

Why gender pronouns are changing

Today, LGBTQ rights are a social and political topic that have gained considerable focus. Despite a societal reinforcement of traditional gender roles, more and more individuals are expressing personal identities outside of traditional gender and sexual identity roles. This includes those identifying themselves as transgender, non-binary, or gender-fluid.

Human rights issues such as women’s rights, gender equality and LGBTQ rights are challenging traditional gender norms and concepts of gender roles. This evolving social climate changes the language used to more accurately describe expressed genders.

Below are some common new terms that you may find it helpful to be aware of.

How gender pronouns are changing

If you engaged in this social conversation, it is helpful to clearly understand new gender-identity related terms. Here are some common terms and phrases you may encounter related to changing expressions of gender and sexual identity.

Common gender and sexual identity terms you may see in academic writing

  • LGBTQ: This is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer. As an acronym, it is used to identify individuals who fall outside of traditional gender and sexual identity roles. While the terms sex and gender are sometimes used interchangeably, it is also important to understand these terms mean different things in certain contexts. Gender s often used to refer to the cultural character roles one assumes whereas sex often refers to one’s biological sexual identity.
    • The terms lesbian and gay refer to individuals whose sexual preference corresponds to the same gender or sex.
    • Bisexual relates to individuals who identify as being interested in both genders or sexes.
    • The terms transgender and transsexual refer to individuals who choose to identify as a gender or sex other than the biological sex or gender they were born as.
    • Queer generally refers to an individual who does not identify with traditional gender and sexual roles. While once considered a derogatory term, queer is now considered a politically correct term to use when identifying non-normative gender and sexually-oriented individuals.
    • Though not included in the acronym, pansexual (being attracted to all sexes and genders regardless of their identity—also known as gender blind) and asexual (having no sexual feelings or attractions) also fall into the scope of terms describing non-normative, or queer, sexual identities.
  • Non-binary: a person or context that is not identified by traditional dualistic male/female gender roles.
  • Gender fluid: A person who may identify with both genders, and/or chooses to express themselves as either gender or both genders.
  • Gender neutral: A person or context that neither identifies nor gives preference to one gender over another.
  • Cisgender: A term used to describe the biologically-identified gender a person is born as.
  • Gender non-normative: An individual that falls outside the scope of traditional male / female gender roles.

New gender pronouns

  • They: They is often used to describe individuals who do not identify traditionally as he or she, who are gender fluid. They can also be used to refer to gender-neutral individuals.
  • Ze: Ze is a new pronoun (zir being the possessive form) that is used to identify an individual for which the gender is unknown. Ze is often used to refer to individuals who choose to not reveal a specific gender identity.
  • Xe: Xe is the plural form of ze and is used to identify groups of gender-unidentified individuals.

New societal standards

The introduction of these new gender pronouns is influencing national and government-level debates about conventional language standards.

They, them, theirs, ze, zirs, hirs and xe, for instance, are being introduced as alternatives to conventional he and she pronouns for use in corporate, public and educational institutions.

For example, some organizations are encouraging staff to use the term partner instead of wife or husband in an effort to strengthen workplace inclusivity. Also, the US Department of Health and Human Services Pride Network recently officially announced They Day. They Day takes place during the first Wednesday of each month and promotes gender diversity awareness.

A hot debate

Changing gender norms have not gone without considerable attention and controversy. For instance, some social rights activists feel it unfair that male gender pronouns are traditionally used to identify groups of gender-diverse people. For example, the US Declaration of Independence states, “all men are created equal.” In this phrase, of course, men refers to people, both male and female. Such language conventions area being called into question.

Many proponents of inclusivity and the use of new gender pronouns feel it is important to recognize and treat non-gender-binary individuals with respect and equality. Individuals who are gender non-normative may find it hurtful to be identified with binary pronouns like he or she that do not accurately reflect their chosen gender preference.

From another perspective, those choosing a more traditional standpoint towards gender expression may find it challenging to understand how non-traditional gender roles fit within the context of society. Some may also be unsure of exactly how to appropriately refer to gender non-normative individuals.

Below, we will help clarify these issues by exploring why gender roles matter, and how and when to use certain gender pronouns.

Why do gender pronouns matter?

Gender pronouns are intimately linked with individuals’ sense of identity. The words, names and pronouns a person self-identifies with are extremely personal. If someone feels they are not being referred to in a way that fits with their personal preference, it can cause one to feel hurt, misunderstood or marginalized.

Yet gender pronouns and categories play an important role in society. Accurate use of gender pronouns is a critical part of culture, society and language. Using correct gender pronouns to understand an individual’s gender can clarify everything from personal identity and legal information, to dating situations, to family health information.

In academia, correct gender-identification is a critical aspect of research involving human subjects. The more researchers understand about subjects, the more accurately results can be described in a non-biased, nondiscriminatory way.

What this means for academic essay writing

So, what does all this gender pronoun talk mean for you as a student? And how does it impact essay writing? Changing gender pronouns impact essay writing in a couple different ways.

First, academic standards are changing to encourage the use of more inclusive language. This means it is important to avoid gender bias when writing academically.

Second, it is important to know when and how to use which gender pronouns. Essay writing services such as Ultius can provide examples of appropriate uses of gender pronouns in academic writing.

New academic standards

The use of correct gender pronouns is part of student wellness, and wellness and academic performance go hand-in-hand. Due to student diversity in academic settings, many universities have embraced inclusivity standards that promote non-biased gender language.

New Guidelines for Gender Fair Use Language, recently published by the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English), provide a set of standards for using inclusive, non-biased language in academic writing. The New Guidelines document includes rules for using titles, labels, names and pronouns in a way that promotes gender equality.

When to use gender neutral pronouns

There are several pronouns that can be used in situations in which a person’s gender is unidentified or non-binary. The following chart explains the appropriate and grammatically-correct use of three gender neutral pronouns:

Pronouns Example Objective Possessive Reflexive
They They Them Their / Theirs Themself
Ze Ze Hir Hir / Hirs Hirself
Ze Ze Zir Zir / Zirs Zirself

If you are unsure of how to identify a person whose gender is nondescript or who uses gender neutral pronouns, consider politely asking the individual what gender pronoun is preferred. In situations in which a person prefers ze, hir or hirs, it is inappropriate to use they, them or theirs. Likewise, when referring to a transgender individual who is a cisgender female but transitioned to a male gender expression, referring to that individual as she is not appropriate. Referring to that individual as he is appropriate. Did you know misgendering is one of the top contemporary issues facing transgender people in America?

If you are unable to ask for clarification, using gender-neutral term such as they is always more correct than making a gender binary assumption and using an exclusively male or female pronoun. Working with an essay writing service while researching and writing can also help clarify how to best use these pronouns.

Here are some additional tips for using gender pronouns in essay writing:

  • If in doubt, err on the side of neutrality.
  • Use alternate gender pronouns such as those listed above when referring to gender-neutral, gender fluid, non-identified, or non-binary individuals.
  • Remember that readers may be unfamiliar with gender-neutral terms. Consider using footnotes to explain new gender identity terms or gender neutral pronouns such as ze used in your paper.
  • Explain why you chose to use the gender pronouns you did. For instance, if you use they to describe a gender-diverse audience, use a footnote to explain who the term they applies to. Likewise, if you use a male gender pronoun to describe a gender diverse group, explain the cultural context from which the binary gender pronoun was chosen. For instance, perhaps you used the word mankind because of its traditional use or meaning. Explain this to the reader to avoid unintentional bias.
  • Use multiple gender pronouns as indicated by writing “s/he” rather than just “she” or just “he.” This, while still gender binary, leaves the possibilities of gender identity open and keeps your writing inclusive.
  • Use these thought-joggers in the table below if you are stumped trying to replace a gender-specific term with a gender-neutral term. Choose an alternate pronoun from the list below:
Gender-specific noun Gender-neutral replacement noun
Man Person, individual
Freshman First year student
Mankind Humanity, humans, people
Common man Average person
Man-made Artificial, machine-made
Mailman Mail carrier, postal worker
Policeman Police officer
Steward, stewardess Flight attendant
Congressman Congressional representative, legislator
Dear Sir, Dear Madam To Whom it May Concern
Chairman Committee member

Finally, while they can serve as a gender-neutral term, some professors may dislike its use in singular situations. For example, using the term they to refer to an individual may be considered grammatically incorrect by some professors. If in doubt, first check with your professor. If you are reprimanded for using they, point for professor to examples and show them knowing the difference is a real word skill.

If you are still feeling unclear, an essay writing service can be a helpful resource to turn to. High quality essay writing services such as Ultius provide assistance from top writers who are skilled in using diverse gender pronouns in a grammatically correct way.

Context and audience matter

In addition to knowing your pronoun options like those listed above, it is also important to consider how context influences essay writing. The class you write your paper for and the audience who will be reading your paper help determine how to use gender pronouns appropriately. Remember, your professor is not your only audience. Although your professor will be grading your paper, you professor will likely grade your paper based on how well you write it to your intended audience. Your intended audience refers to those who the paper applies to.

For example, if you are writing a social justice paper for a women’s studies class, your intended audience will probably be socially liberal individuals who welcome and prefer the use of gender-inclusive language. If you are writing a paper for a Christian university that values traditional, Biblically-referenced gender roles, it is likely best to use binary male/female gender terms.

Before writing, consider the topic and context of your paper. And again, if you are finding it tricky to decipher what type of language to use, consider reaching out to an essay writing service and buy an essay for guidance.

What to do if in doubt

Even when making the best effort to be gender-inclusive and non-biased, changing terminologies can still cause confusion during the writing process.

If you are feeling stuck knowing how to use gender pronouns correctly, try these tips:

  • Use a formal name or noun instead of a pronoun. In other words, name the person rather than substituting the name with a pronoun.
  • Do some research. If you are writing about a common topic, group of people or individual, check out how other empirical sources have identified the topic, group or person with respect. If you are stuck with the research process, try working with a professional essay writing service.
  • Do not be afraid to ask for help. Guidance is a natural and helpful part of the learning process. Essay writing services can provide assistance clarifying the use of gender pronouns. An essay writing service can also help with grammatical editing.
  • Use the checklist below as a quick reference.

Gender PC checklist

After you finish writing an essay, use this checklist as a guide to determine whether or not you used gender pronouns as correctly as possible:

  • Check your topic and context. Who is your audience? How do they define and view gender roles? How will this impact your use of gender pronouns?
  • Search your document for gender binary terms like he, she, him, her, his and hers. Are these terms used in situations that relate to male/female gender roles?
  • Did you accurately refer to individuals’ genders or sexual identities in your paper?
  • Were any gender-related opinions you included required by the instructions? If not, how could you revise your writing to eliminate gender bias?

These checklist items can be somewhat subjective, which is why it can be incredibly helpful to have a second set of eyes review your draft. Essay writing services like Ultius not only provide example essays of how to use gender pronouns correctly, but also offer help editing.

How an essay writing service can help

As language evolves with changing standards, essay writing services can help in a number of ways by:

  • Providing guidance about what gender pronouns are most appropriate to use in different contexts, classes, and situations.
  • Proofreading essays to ensure new gender pronouns are used in a grammatically correct way.
  • Providing example papers that use gender pronouns in a non-discriminatory and unbiased way in alignment with most academic standards.
  • Clarifying the tone and voice most politically correct to use, depending on the class, topic and intended audience.

If you are needing for help in any of these areas, you will want to be sure you opt for an essay writing service that is highly rated and trustworthy. Here are a few key considerations.

What to look for in a trustworthy essay writing service

Essay writing services are trustworthy when they meet the right criteria. When choosing an essay writing service, make sure the essay writing service you choose meets these three criteria:

  • Hires quality professional writers with a diverse skill set. Top tier essay writing services such as Ultius only hire 6% of the writers who apply. Call the service you are considering and ask how the hiring process takes place.
  • Has positive reviews. Avoid essay writing services with picture perfect, 5-star reviews across the board, which may be fabricated. Instead, go for an essay writing service with almost-perfect reviews.
  • Free revisions and 24/7 support. You will definitely want the ability to contact essay writing service support 24/7 if you are a college student with a heavy class load.

If you have questions about academic writing standards and what kind of language to use in an essay, an essay writing service can help.



Ultius, Inc. "How Gender Pronouns Impact Essay Writing." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. Ultius Blog, 09 Aug. 2019. https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/gender-pronouns-impact-essay-writing.html

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Ultius, Inc. (2019, August 09). How Gender Pronouns Impact Essay Writing. Retrieved from Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services, https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/gender-pronouns-impact-essay-writing.html

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Ultius, Inc. "How Gender Pronouns Impact Essay Writing." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. August 09, 2019 https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/gender-pronouns-impact-essay-writing.html.

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Ultius, Inc. "How Gender Pronouns Impact Essay Writing." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. August 09, 2019 https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/gender-pronouns-impact-essay-writing.html.

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