Glossary: As more colleges allow gender-neutral pronouns, some common (and uncommon) ones

You know the pronouns "he" and "she" refer to men and women, respectively. But a group of gender-neutral pronouns has sprung up, including "ze" or "per," sometimes used in the transgender community or among those who don't identify as male or female. Colleges including Harvard and American universities have allowed students to choose gender-neutral pronouns, but a similar move at the University of Tennessee sparked outrage among state politicians. Here's a table of some common — and uncommon — alternatives to "he" and "she."

Traditional (gender-binary) pronouns



Gender-neutral pronounsPronunciation


zehir hirszhee, heer, heerz

zezirzirszhee, zheer, zheerz

xexemxyrzhee, zhem, zheer

eemeirsee, em, airs


huhumhuswho, whom, whose

(asterisk)used as a singular pronoun

Source: Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools, the University of Tennessee