However, many transgender people cannot afford a legal name change or are not yet old enough to legally change their name. They should be afforded the same respect for their chosen name as anyone else who uses a name other than their birth name (e.g., Lady Gaga, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg). When writing about a transgender person’s chosen name, do not say “she wants to be called,” “she calls herself,” “she goes by Marisol,” or other phrases that cast doubt on a transgender person’s gender. Do not put quotation e (or the pronoun) that reflects that person’s gender identity.
Disclosing birth names. When a transgender person’s birth name is used in a story, the implication is almost always that it is the person’s “real name.” But in fact, a transgender person’s chosen name is their real name, whether or not they are able to obtain a court-ordered name change, which can be expensive and involves complex bureaucratic obstacles. Some transgender people call it “deadnaming” when a trans person’s birth name is revealed without their permission, but the term is not universally accepted as it implies a trans person “dies” when they transition. If the person is not able to answer questions about their birth name, err on the side of caution and do not report it.
Some transgender people are able to obtain a legal name change from a court
Ask for the pronoun a person uses, and use it. We all use pronouns, and pronouns convey gender information. If you say “He went to the store” and “She went to work,” your audience understands you to say that a man went to the store and a woman went to work. However, for transgender people, social transition may involve asking others to refer to them with new and different pronouns in order to better reflect their true gender identity. Simply respect the pronouns people ask you to use and use them as requested, just as you would strive to pronounce someone’s name correctly. If you are not certain which pronoun to use, you might say to a person, “My pronouns are she/her. What pronouns do you use?” Or it is also acceptable to use the singular they to describe someone when you don’t wish to assign a gender. For example: “I haven’t met your friend Miguel. What pronouns do they use?” Please note that the trans community no longer uses the phrase “preferred pronouns” as it implies that trans people’s pronouns are a preference, not a fact. Accurate pronouns are important for transgender and nonbinary youth. Research from the Trevor Project shows that youth who reported having their correct pronouns used by the fabswingers people they lived with had half the rate of attempted suicide compared to those who did not have their pronouns respected.
Many nonbinary people use the singular they pronoun. It is increasingly common for people who have a nonbinary gender identity and/or gender expression to use they/them as their pronoun. The singular they/them pronoun does not have gendered connotations. For example: “Devin writes eloquently about their non-binary identity. They have also appeared frequently in the media to talk about their gender expression and the way people react to the way they dress.” The singular they has been adopted in all leading style guides, including AP, APA, MLA, and Chicago, and now appears in many dictionaries as well.
Cisgender people rarely think about pronouns because the gendered pronoun people use for them is aligned with the sex they were assigned at birth
Some people ple, “My name is Jose and I use he/they pronouns.” People who use multiple pronouns may wish you to choose one of those pronouns and use it consistently, or they may wish you to use both pronouns interchangeably when referring to them. For example, “Jose is an excellent co-worker. He always turns in projects on deadline, and they also volunteer to organize the office holiday party every year.” (For more about what it means to be nonbinary, please see “In Focus: Nonbinary People.”)