It’s easy to fall into the trap of using gendered language when talking about people and roles. You see it all the time: a waiter, salesperson, nurse, receptionist, etc. It’s tempting to continue speaking in those same gendered terms when talking with friends or co-workers. After all, it feels natural and comfortable.
But what you may not realize is that your use of gendered terms can alienate someone who identifies outside of the gender binary.
Even more so than that… Using gendered words implies that there are only two genders – male or female – and neglects anyone who does not identify as one of those two.
In this article we’ll explore some tips for using gender neutral language in everyday conversation so that you never again have to worry about offending a friend or co-worker!
1.Communicating with Gender Neutral Language
Communicating with gender neutral language is as easy as being mindful of your word choice and looking for alternatives that don’t specify gender. Using gender neutral language is a great resource for people who are non-binary, gender fluid, trans, and anyone who feels that their gender does not fit into the male/female binary. Here are a few tips for communicating with gender neutral language: – Be aware of who you’re talking to. If you’re not sure of someone’s pronouns, ask! – Use “they” as a singular pronoun. It is now widely considered a legitimate, non-gendered singular pronoun. – Avoid using gendered words like “man” or “woman,” which are often loaded with sexist or gendered connotations. Instead, choose words that don’t specify gender.
2. Use Gender-Neutral Pronouns
Pronouns are words we use to describe the people around us, as well as ourselves. You may be using gendered pronouns when referring to yourself or others without realizing it. People who are non-binary may prefer to use gender-neutral pronouns, such as “they,” “them,” or “ze.”
If you’re speaking with someone who uses a gendered pronoun and you don’t know which one they prefer, it’s best to ask. If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t know someone’s pronouns, try to avoid making assumptions. For example, if you’re talking about someone who is a friend of a friend and you don’t know their pronouns, it’s best to avoid making assumptions about their gender.
3. Change the way you talk about jobs and roles
If you’re talking about a waiter or a nurse, you can simply change the way you talk about the role to a gender-neutral alternative. Instead of “waiter” or “nurse,” try “server” or “health care provider.” Of course, this is not a catch-all solution. You don’t want to use these terms in place of “waitress” or “doctor.” Instead, use these terms when referring to people in non-gendered or gender-neutral roles. For example, if you’re at a restaurant and someone at the table orders a salad, you could say, “The server will be with you shortly.”
4. Don’t use gender-based colloquialisms
Certain words and colloquialisms have a gender-based root, which makes them inappropriate for use in conversations with women and non-binary people.
For example, the phrase “man up,” implies that there are only two genders. It also implies that weakness is a feminine trait.
Similarly, the phrase “gal pal” associates women with friendship. Other words to be mindful of include “shes,” “bros,” and “ladies.” These words are not inherently offensive, but they are often used to describe non-gendered groups. Instead, try to use alternative words that don’t specify gender.
5. Be mindful of your language when talking about relationships
Relationships are messy. They don’t always fit into neat little boxes of male/female combinations. Some people have relationships that are non-romantic or non-sexual. Instead, the relationship may be platonic.
Similarly, some people may have romantic relationships with people of the same gender. Terms like “girlfriend” or “boyfriend” imply that the person in the relationship must be someone of the opposite sex. It’s best to avoid using these terms when talking about non-romantic or non-sexual relationships. Instead, try using phrases like “my platonic friend” or “my non-romantic partner.”
Gendered language exists in our everyday conversations, whether we realise it or not.
Using gender-neutral language allows us to be more inclusive, empathetic, and thoughtful towards those who don’t identify with the gender binary. It’s important to remember that language evolves over time.
It can take a while for new terms to become widely used and accepted. If you notice that someone is offended by your choice of words, don’t be defensive. Reflect on the situation and try to think about how you could have said the same thing in a different way. Be open to feedback, and you’ll quickly learn how to speak with gender neutral language!