Gender-inclusive language is more welcoming to your users and promotes gender equality. Do not reference gender unless absolutely necessary.
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About gender identity
Gender identity refers to a sense of self, regardless of what sex a person was assigned at birth. Not everyone falls neatly into binary male or female categories.
Non-binary is an umbrella term for gender identities that are neither male or female.
Language influences how we think
When using gender pronouns and referring to gender identity consider that:
- your users are a diverse group of people from across the gender spectrum
- labelling people as male or female can reinforce outdated stereotypes and influence how men and women are perceived.
- gender-exclusive language — for example ‘man-made’, can alienate people who do not identify as men.
- Use gender-neutral pronouns (they, them) by default — especially if you’re writing about a hypothetical person or do not know a person’s pronoun.
- Respect a person’s pronouns when referring to them.
- Do not ask your users for their title or gender unless absolutely necessary.
- If you do require users to indicate their title or gender, make provision for multiple options, including gender-neutral options. Allow users to select more than 1 option.
- Avoid words that are gender exclusive — for example use ‘firefighter’ not ‘fireman’.
Examples of gender-neutral language
- they, them or their — not he, she
- spouse or partner — not husband, wife
- parent — not mother, father
- different sex — not opposite sex
- businessperson — not businessman, businesswoman
- police officer — not policeman, policewoman
- chair — not chairman, chairwoman
- machine-made, artificial, synthetic — not man-made