We need the singular “they” – and it won’t seem wrong for long

My latest essay just went up on Aeon.co.

It’s a historical perspective on the controversy over “they” as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun. Based on my experience as a copyeditor on the front lines during two earlier major usage shifts, it argues that using “they” is fundamentally an issue of social justice.



  1. You are quite right, and I don’t believe they’re the same, I know the difference. But I was using the customary language of people who are not educated on this issue.

    And sorry for the long time it took to answer. I’ve been neglecting this blog, and WordPress didn’t send me a notification of your comment (even though it’s set to do that, don’t know why).

  2. “And a language that collapses the spectrum of gender identities into male and female reflects ….” So you believe “gender” and “sex” are the same thing? If you cared one bit about grammar, you would do your homework and learn than “gender” refers to femininity and masculinity whereas “sex” refers to female and male.

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