10/28/2014 04:06 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Gender-neutral Pronouns: When ‘They' Doesn't Identify As Either Male Or Female

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Dear Civilities: Recently, a young woman I know explained to me that she now considers herself to be “genderqueer,” which is a new phrase for me. My first question is: What does she mean by that? I also understand that she no longer uses female pronouns to refer to herself (i.e., “her” and “she”) but prefers “they,” “them” and “their” because, as she told me, they identify her as a person, not as either a man or a woman. She has asked her friends to adopt that language, too, but maybe I’m old school, because I find it odd and grammatically incorrect to say something like, “Oh, they went to the movies this afternoon,” in reference to one singular person. What is the right thing to do, and say, in this circumstance?” — Name withheld, Washington, D.C.

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