AP allowing the singular ‘they’

Traditionalists might not like the use of a plural pronoun to designate an individual. Within the context of malleable gender identity, however, advocates are praising the change.

Take a victory lap, those of you fighting for pronouns more elastic than those tied to the XY and XX chromosomes that distinguish males and females.

With the release of the revised The AP Stylebook on Wednesday, you now have the endorsement of the world’s largest news gathering organization in the use of they as a singular pronoun.

AP changed the rules for two reasons, lead editor Paula Froke said in a statement quoted by Poynter: the “recognition that the spoken language uses they as singular, and we also recognize the need for a pronoun for people who don’t identify as a he or a she.”

The decision was announced in March but is made official with the release of the book this week.

Froke added that it is usually possible to write around the use of they as a singular. For the first use, a traditionalist usually can stick to, uh, their guns by making the antecedent a plural (“traditionalists usually can…”), or by otherwise revising the sentence to avoid AP’s newly sanctioned irritant.

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