Merriam-Webster Dictionary Recognizes ‘They’ as a Gender Preference

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Abigail Brown, Ranger Review Reporter

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The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary has added a new definition for the word they.  The company, an established authority on proper word use and meaning, now recognizes it as a nonbinary or gender-nonconforming pronoun. Many nonbinary and gender-nonconforming community members are celebrating the addition of the nonbinary definition.

“I think it’s great,” said freshman Max Caiazzo of the Greely Greely Gay, Straight, Transgender + Alliance [shortened to GSTA+]. “As a person who prefers those pronouns, it makes me feel validated.”

When someone identifies as nonbinary or gender-nonconforming, it means that their gender identity is ambiguous, unknown, or not exclusively masculine or exclusively feminine. There are many other terms nonbinary people use to define their gender identities, such as agender or genderqueer. Those who are gender-nonconforming are a part of the LGBT+ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender +] community.

Merriam Webster isn’t the first to recognize they as a singular pronoun.  The American Psychological Association (APA) Style Center has adopted the pronoun usage as well. 

“APA supports the choice of communities to determine their own descriptors,” said Chelsea Lee of the APA Style Blog in response to a reader’s question regarding the usage of they. “Thus, when transgender and gender-nonconforming people… use the singular they as their pronoun, writers should likewise use the singular they when writing about them.”

The addition of the singular they pronoun to Webster is giving “more reassurance to non-binary folks who use it,” said sophomore Aiden Brown, member of the GSTA + Alliance.

“They’re more validated than ever.”

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