Photograph: Chris Delmas/AFP/Getty Images
Photograph: Chris Delmas/AFP/Getty Images

On Friday, Janelle Monáe came out as non-binary, retweeting a post which read: “There is absolutely nothing better than living outside the gender binary.”

Monáe’s tweet came after the recent announcement of Sam Smith, who recently said they felt “just as much a woman as I am man”. Both celebrities joined the increasing number of young people who identify neither as male or female.

Non-binary people tend to prefer using they/them pronouns (although not exclusively – some use she and he interchangeably). If gender neutral pronouns intimidate you, you’re not the only one. As someone who is new to using them (a number of my friends have recently started to identify as non-binary), I confess it can be intimidating when you want to respect someone’s wishes without making any blunders.

Putting someone’s dignity before my shyness about how to use a pronoun is, of course, the bare minimum. But I admit to having made mistakes – even avoiding using pronouns in the past, for fear of getting it wrong.

It really isn’t that hard, however, to get it right.

For the full story, visit TheGuardian.com/LifeandStyle.

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