How to refer to a non‐binary person

Well technically, he didn’t go back to being male. He always was male. But James Shupe – who decided to go by the name Jamie – was the first person in the United States to get the government to recognize him as “non-binary,” meaning “not one or the other.” Now, James wants to go back to being recognized only as male. You know…because he’s a male.

Sadly, Shupe was able to convince the government to go back and fraudulently reflect his unscientific ‘non-binary’ status on his legal and medical records. Now, Shupe is having to fight to get his records put aright again.

Shupe was a U.S. Army sergeant who became a vocal critic against the military and government who refused to recognize his gender fluidity. The psychologically unstable now has now been given by providence a moment of mental clarity, and he recognizes that having male genitalia makes him a man and regrets demanding the government to go along with his delusion.

Strangely enough, Shupe argues that he “reclaimed his birth sex” in February, as though he had ever lost it. He writes about it on his blog, here.

In a post entitled, Please Address Me as James Shupe Now, he links his Twitter feed and states simply that he’s restoring his ‘male birth name.’

Also interestingly, he blames a male relative of molesting him as a child, a common theme among those who are gender-confused. Early traumatic sexual childhood experiences are almost universal among those with gender identity confusion, according to many clinical studies.

Shupe was the first person listed as ‘non-binary” on a government document, as the Federal Government changed his birth certificate from “male” to “unknown,” as a part of an effort to accomdate trans-confused individuals. Shupe now recognizes the gender God gave him, and we’ll have to see if the government again bends documents designed to portray objective facts because of his new request.

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Table of Contents

How do you formally address a non-binary person?

Many non-binary people use “they” while others use “he” or “she,” and still others use other pronouns. Asking whether someone should be referred to as “he,” “she,” “they,” or another pronoun may feel awkward at first, but is one of the simplest and most important ways to show respect for someone’s identity

Why do we say sir and ma am?

The origins of “ma’am” and “sir” are pretty self-explanatory. “Ma’am” comes from the more formal “madam,” a term of address once used for a married woman. “Sir,” besides being what folks called knights in merry old England, became a catch-all for addressing a gentleman

Is Ma am a sign of respect?

In theory, ma’am is a courtesy term, meant to convey respect and graciousness lightly salted with deference. Yet much evidence suggests that when it comes to fomenting a sense of good will ma’am fails even more spectacularly than “Have a nice day.”2010年8月28日

What is ma’am short for?

Ma’am is a short form of Madam or Madame, the polite form of address for a woman.

Is Ma am polite?

Madam (/ˈmædəm/), or madame (/ˈmædəm/ or /məˈdɑːm/), is a polite and formal form of address for women, often contracted to ma’am (pronounced /ˈmæm/ in American English and /ˈmɑːm/ in British English).

Where does the word ma’am come from?

Where does yes ma’am come from? Since at least the late 1600s, ma’am has been a contraction of madame, a formal address for a woman of superior social status. Madame, for the word-curious, is borrowed from French, in turn from the Latin mea domina, or “my lady.”2018年5月15日

What does Sir mean?

Sir is a formal English honorific address for men, derived from Sire in the High Middle Ages. Since the Late Modern era, “Sir” has been increasingly used also as a respectful way to address any commoners of a superior social status or military rank.

How do you address a female teacher?

But in some, a woman teacher – even one who is married – continues to be referred to as “Miss”. In many private schools there is a different kind of disparity. While male teachers are always known as “Sir”, female teachers are called by their name – “Mrs Jones”, for instance

Is Ma am a contraction?

The phrase “ma’am” is a contraction of the word “madam,” but calling someone madam sounds more pretentious/fedora-esque than ma’am.

Is the Queen mam or ma am?

On presentation to The Queen, the correct formal address is ‘Your Majesty’ and subsequently ‘Ma’am,’ pronounced with a short ‘a,’ as in ‘jam’. For male members of the Royal Family the same rules apply, with the title used in the first instance being ‘Your Royal Highness’ and subsequently ‘Sir’.

Non-Binary Defined

Most people – including most transgender people – are either male or female. But some people don’t neatly fit into the categories of “man” or “woman,” or “male” or “female.” For example, some people have a gender that blends elements of being a man or a woman, or a gender that is different than either male or female. Some people don’t identify with any gender. Some people’s gender changes over time.

People whose gender is not male or female use many different terms to describe themselves, with non-binary being one of the most common. Other terms include genderqueer, agender, bigender, and more. None of these terms mean exactly the same thing – but all speak to an experience of gender that is not simply male or female.

(Note: NCTE uses both the adjectives “male” and “female” and the nouns “man” and “woman” to refer to a person’s gender identity.)

Why “Non-Binary”?

Some societies – like ours – tend to recognize just two genders, male and female. The idea that there are only two genders is sometimes called a “gender binary,” because binary means “having two parts” (male and female). Therefore, “non-binary” is one term people use to describe genders that don’t fall into one of these two categories, male or female.

Basic Facts about Non-Binary People

Non-binary people are nothing new. Non-binary people aren’t confused about their gender identity or following a new fad – non-binary identities have been recognized for millennia by cultures and societies around the world.

Some, but not all, non-binary people undergo medical procedures to make their bodies more congruent with their gender identity. While not all non-binary people need medical care to live a fulfilling life, it’s critical and even life-saving for many.

Most transgender people are not non-binary. While some transgender people are non-binary, most transgender people have a gender identity that is either male or female, and should be treated like any other man or woman.

Being non-binary is not the same thing as being intersex. Intersex people have anatomy or genes that don’t fit typical definitions of male and female. Most intersex people identify as either men or women. Non-binary people are usually not intersex: they’re usually born with bodies that may fit typical definitions of male and female, but their innate gender identity is something other than male or female.

How to Be Respectful and Supportive of Non-Binary People

It isn’t as hard as you might think to be supportive and respectful of non-binary people, even if you have just started to learn about them.

You don’t have to understand what it means for someone to be non-binary to respect them. Some people haven’t heard a lot about non-binary genders or have trouble understanding them, and that’s okay. But identities that some people don’t understand still deserve respect.

Use the name a person asks you to use. This is one of the most critical aspects of being respectful of a non-binary person, as the name you may have been using may not reflect their gender identity. Don’t ask someone what their old name was.

Try not to make any assumptions about people’s gender. You can’t tell if someone is non-binary simply by looking at them, just like how you can’t tell if someone is transgender just by how they look.

If you’re not sure what pronouns someone uses, ask. Different non-binary people may use different pronouns. Many non-binary people use “they” while others use “he” or “she,” and still others use other pronouns. Asking whether someone should be referred to as “he,” “she,” “they,” or another pronoun may feel awkward at first, but is one of the simplest and most important ways to show respect for someone’s identity.

Advocate for non-binary friendly policies. It’s important for non-binary people to be able to live, dress and have their gender respected at work, at school and in public spaces.

Understand that, for many non-binary people, figuring out which bathroom to use can be challenging. For many non-binary people, using either the women’s or the men’s room might feel unsafe, because others may verbally harass them or even physically attack them. Non-binary people should be supported by being able to use the restroom that they believe they will be safest in.

Talk to non-binary people to learn more about who they are. There’s no one way to be non-binary. The best way to understand what it’s like to be non-binary is to talk with non-binary people and listen to their stories.

Table of Contents

How do you formally address a gender neutral person?

If you need to refer to someone who prefers gender-neutral pronouns in a formal context, you can use the gender-neutral honorific “Mx.” If you’re inviting me to your fancy dinner party, you can address the invitation to “Mx.

How do you address a letter to a non-binary person?

Gender-inclusive correspondence And the salutation usually contains the same courtesy title: “Dear Ms. Brown,” “Dear Mr. Smith.” Moreover, when we don’t know the receiver’s name, we have been told in the past to use a salutation like “Dear Sir or Madam” in order to include both sexes.

How do you address a letter if you don’t know the name?

‘Dear Sir’ is technically the correct form when you do not know the name of the person, but many people prefer ‘Dear Sir or Madam’. Google the name of the person who heads that department, and use their name.

How do you address a formal letter without a name?

Very formal (for official business letters) To Whom It May Concern: Use only when you do not know to whom you must address the letter, for example, when writing to an institution. Dear Sir/Madam, Use when writing to a position without having a named contact.

When to use To Whom It May Concern?

“To Whom It May Concern” is a letter salutation that has traditionally been used in business correspondence when you don’t have a specific person to whom you are writing, or you do not know the name of the person to whom you are writing.

Is there another way to say to whom it may concern?

Try these “to whom it may concern” alternatives instead: Dear (hiring manager’s name). Dear (name of the department you’re pursuing). Dear (name of referral).

Should I start a cover letter with To Whom It May Concern?

Never use “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear or Sir or Madam”—nothing could be more generic (not to mention archaic). Your cover letter could be the first opportunity you have to make an impression on the hiring manager, so make sure you show that you did your company research.

How do you write a proper letter?

Sample Letter Format

  1. Contact Information (Include your contact information unless you are writing on letterhead that already includes it.) Your Name. Your Address.
  2. Date.
  3. Contact Information (The person or company you are writing to) Name. Title.
  4. Greeting (Salutation Examples)
  5. Body of Letter.
  6. Closing.
  7. Signature.
  8. Typed Signature.

How do you start a formal letter if you don’t know the gender?

If you don’t know the gender identity of the person you’re addressing, use a gender-neutral greeting and simply include their first and last name, e.g., “Dear Tristan Dolan.”

How do you address a gender neutral email?

You can use the appropriate gender title (such as “Sir” or “Madam”) if you know the gender of the person but not their name. While you should always address your letters as specifically as possible, if you can’t obtain the person’s gender, you can use their first and last names: Dear Rory Smythe.

How do you address a letter of recommendation?

If you are writing a personal recommendation letter, include a salutation (Dear Dr. Williams, Dear Ms. Miller, etc.). If you are writing a general letter, say “To Whom it May Concern” or simply don’t include a salutation.

How do you address a professional letter?

Things to Include When Addressing a Formal Letter

  1. First line: Full name.
  2. Second line: Company name.
  3. Third line: Street address.
  4. Fourth line: City or town, followed by the state name and zip code.
  5. The address should appear under the sender’s name and should be aligned to the left.

What is a full block style letter?

In a full block business letter, every component of the letter (heading, address, salutation, body, salutation, signature, identification, enclosures) is aligned to the left. Also, first sentences of paragraphs are not indented. Address, salutation, the body, and enclosures are aligned to the left.

How to refer to a non‐binary person

As the public becomes increasingly aware of gender identities that don’t strictly fit under “man” or “woman,” we’re running into an issue: Most languages were created with the gender binary in mind. To solve this problem, gender-neutral terms are popping up that can be used to refer to non-binary people or to talk about people without specifying their gender. These also let us talk about others in a less gendered way if, for example, we want to address a group in a way that makes everyone feel included or talk about someone’s partner if their gender hasn’t been disclosed.

“The use of gender-neutral language has been widely recognized as being hugely important in the struggle for gender equality,” Sam Dowd, British Didactics Expert from language learning app Babbel, tells Bustle. “Language is power, and when we speak about ‘mankind’ or ‘the achievements of man’, what we’re doing is confirming the subconscious bias that men are intellectually, morally, and physically superior to women — which is clearly untrue! By using such language, we exclude women (and, for that matter, people of non-binary gender) from history. As such, the term ‘herstory’ is now sometimes used in discourse to refer to the long-obscured achievements and struggles of women.”

We could all stand to be more inclusive, so toward that end, here are some gender-neutral terms we should all be using.

We’ve all used the word “they” to describe multiple people in the third person, but it’s actually been used to describe a single person since the 14th century, says Dowd. “You’ll find ‘they’, ‘them’, ‘their’, ‘theirs’, and ‘themselves’ liberally littered throughout the works of great authors including Geoffrey Chaucer, Jane Austen, and Lord Byron.” Now, the word has even made it into the style guides of publications like The Washington Post, both to describe people who go by this pronoun and to describe people without talking about their gender.

This quicktip was created in collaboration with Melinda Lee, Assistant Director, Gender and Sexuality Center for Queer and Trans Life.

Problem

Many people understand the existence of gender pronouns beyond the binary (she/her/hers or he/him/his). However, they may not be familiar with how to use those pronouns in sentences. As a result, even when they know the pronouns of reference for a person, they can struggle to incorporate those pronouns in their writing.

Solutions

Learn the typical forms that nonbinary gender pronouns can take.

The following chart provides examples of some nonbinary gender pronouns in a variety of forms.

Pronouns of reference

Nominative (subject)

Objective (object)

Possessive determiner

Possessive pronoun

Reflexive

They wrote a carefully-
researched article.

Their carefully-
researched article won an award.

That research is theirs.

They cited themself.

Ey wrote a carefully-
researched article.
(“ay”)

Eir carefully-
researched article won an award.
(“air”)

That research is eirs.
(“airs”)

Ey cited emself.

Ze wrote a carefully-
researched article.
(“zee”)

Hir carefully-
researched article won an award.

That research is hirs.
(“heers”)

Ze cited hirself.
(“heerself”)

Ze wrote a carefully-
researched article.
(“zee”)

Zir carefully-
researched article won an award.

That research is zirs.
(“zeers”)

Ze cited zirself.
(“zeerself”)

Co wrote a carefully-
researched article.

Co’s carefully-
researched article won an award.

That research is co’s.

Co cited coself.

Chart adapted from Gender Pronouns, LGBT Resource Center, University of Wisconsin, 23 March 2018.

Proofread your writing.

No matter what pronouns appear in your sentences, it’s important that you are consistent in the pronouns you use to cite or refer to people. One way to check for consistency is to use Word’s Find feature (in the “Edit” menu) to search for the pronouns you’ve written in. For example, if you’re citing a writer who uses “they/them/theirs” pronouns and you’re concerned that you might have written a different one to refer to them, go to the Edit menu and select Find. Type in the author’s name in order to find all the sentences where you’ve cited them; that way, you can be sure to proofread each sentence that refers to the author. Or, you could use Edit>Find to search for any instances of, say, “she” that need to be changed to the appropriate pronoun.

Practice using nonbinary gender pronouns so that they become more automatic.

If you will be citing or referring to a person who uses nonbinary gender pronouns, practice reading and writing texts with those pronouns. At the Gender Neutral Pronoun Blog, each entry on a specific pronoun links to a passage from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland using that pronoun in place of “she/her/hers.” Reading these excerpts can familiarize you with how nonbinary pronouns appear in context. Another place to learn and practice using a variety of gender pronouns is the web-based Pronouns App, developed by the Australian youth-led LGBTI organization Minus 18.

Consider adding an explanatory footnote.

If your audience is not familiar with nonbinary pronouns, consider adding an explanatory footnote after your first use of a nonbinary pronoun. An example might be, “In this paper, I use the nonbinary gender pronouns [name them] because the people I am citing and/or to whom I am referring use these pronouns to refer to themselves. It is important to me that I respect their identities in my writing by using the appropriate gender pronouns.”

If you are using singular they, you may also wish to cite the International Writing Centers Association’s Position Statement on “Singular Use of ‘They.'”

How to refer to a non‐binary person

As the public becomes increasingly aware of gender identities that don’t strictly fit under “man” or “woman,” we’re running into an issue: Most languages were created with the gender binary in mind. To solve this problem, gender-neutral terms are popping up that can be used to refer to non-binary people or to talk about people without specifying their gender. These also let us talk about others in a less gendered way if, for example, we want to address a group in a way that makes everyone feel included or talk about someone’s partner if their gender hasn’t been disclosed.

“The use of gender-neutral language has been widely recognized as being hugely important in the struggle for gender equality,” Sam Dowd, British Didactics Expert from language learning app Babbel, tells Bustle. “Language is power, and when we speak about ‘mankind’ or ‘the achievements of man’, what we’re doing is confirming the subconscious bias that men are intellectually, morally, and physically superior to women — which is clearly untrue! By using such language, we exclude women (and, for that matter, people of non-binary gender) from history. As such, the term ‘herstory’ is now sometimes used in discourse to refer to the long-obscured achievements and struggles of women.”

We could all stand to be more inclusive, so toward that end, here are some gender-neutral terms we should all be using.

We’ve all used the word “they” to describe multiple people in the third person, but it’s actually been used to describe a single person since the 14th century, says Dowd. “You’ll find ‘they’, ‘them’, ‘their’, ‘theirs’, and ‘themselves’ liberally littered throughout the works of great authors including Geoffrey Chaucer, Jane Austen, and Lord Byron.” Now, the word has even made it into the style guides of publications like The Washington Post, both to describe people who go by this pronoun and to describe people without talking about their gender.

For some teens, exploring their gender identity is an important part of figuring out who they are. Most people are familiar with two gender identities – man and woman. But some cultures recognize a third gender identity. They view gender as something that can be more complex than two categories allow. The term non-binary is used to reflect the idea that people can view and describe gender in ways that go beyond woman or man. Although the idea of a non-binary gender identity might seem confusing at first, asking a few simple questions and learning a few core concepts about gender can help you feel confident about supporting your teen as they explore the way they think of and express their gender.

What does it mean when someone says they are non-binary?

Being non-binary means different things to different people. For most people who say they are non-binary it means that they don’t feel a full connection to the gender they were assigned at birth. A non-binary person who was labeled female or a girl at birth might feel like they have more traits and interests in common with people who were labeled as male, but not enough in common to think of themselves as a man. The same goes for a non-binary person who was labeled male at birth. They might enjoy and identify with things that are more commonly associated with women, but still not feel fully connected to that gender identity either.

A non-binary person might describe themselves as a mix of the traditional genders of man and woman. They might describe themselves as being neither a man nor a woman. The best way to understand how a non-binary person understands their gender identity is to ask them to describe it.

Because there are so many different ways that non-binary people understand their gender, there isn’t any right or wrong way to be non-binary. Non-binary people might have short hair or long hair. They may wear makeup or not. They may love all kinds of different clothes and activities. If your teen is just beginning to explore their non-binary identity, they might want to try a very different gender expression. They may wear a dress outside of the house. Or they may cut their hair cut very short. Regardless of whether that change is something they decide to stick with, it’s important to recognize that trying it out is an important part of figuring out who they are and how they want to express themselves.

My teen wants to use “they” as a pronoun instead of “he” or “she.” Why does that matter?

When a non-binary person decides to change which pronouns they use, they’re taking a big step in expressing their identity. The pronoun “they” has a long history of being used to refer to just one person. The use of “they” as a singular personal pronoun is also gaining acceptance in all kinds of communities and professional contexts. The New York Times covered the rising use of “they” in this article about the Merriam-Webster Dictionary naming “they” as it’s word of the year.

It’s important to remember, however, that not all non-binary people use “they” as their personal pronoun. Some might use “he” or “she”. Other non-binary people have adopted new pronouns to use, like “ze”, “xe”, or something from this list. Again, the best way to know which pronouns to use for your teen (or any non-binary person) is to ask how they would like you to refer to them.

I keep messing up my teen’s pronouns and now they’re asking to go by a different name, too. How should I handle the times when I get things wrong?

It can take a little time to adjust to change!

If you accidentally address someone using the wrong name or pronoun, correct yourself, offer a quick apology, and move on. Just like any skill, you can practice using a person’s correct name and pronoun to get better at it. Correct yourself at any time that you use the wrong name or pronoun, even if you’re not talking to that person at the time or just thinking something about that person in your own mind. It feels really exciting and affirming for someone who is using a new name or pronoun to hear other people use it, so focus on how happy you can make that person instead of dwelling on the ways you might accidentally hurt them.

Is non-binary the same thing as transgender? Are non-binary people part of the LGBT community?

A transgender person fully identifies with a gender other than the one assigned at birth. Many transgender people, but not all, change their name, their personal pronouns, and the way they express themselves with their clothes, mannerisms, and the activities they participate in as part of identifying with that other gender. Some non-binary people think of themselves as having changed in the same kind of way when they started to identify as non-binary and so they might describe themselves as being both transgender and non-binary, or trans non-binary. But not all non-binary people think of themselves as transgender.

What’s the best way to know whether someone identifies as both non-binary and transgender?

You guessed it: ask them!

Most non-binary people see themselves as belonging to the LGBT community. Since non-binary people don’t fully identify with the traditional genders of man or woman, they might view the romantic or sexual relationships that they have as being different from what most people think of as straight relationships. While the familiar LGBT acronym doesn’t have the letter N in it, non-binary people can find support, information, and connection at LGBT centers and events close to home and around the world.

Where to Learn More About Gender and Gender Identity

There are lots of ways of thinking about gender beyond man, woman, transgender, and non-binary. The organization Transgender Student Education Resources has a great visual representation of gender identity that you can check out here, and this article digs deeper into the history and details of transgender and non-binary identities in cultures around the world. Finally, the National Center for Transgender Equality has this guide for how to support the non-binary people in your life.

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