Nearly a quarter of Gen Z now identify using a non-gendered pronoun like 'they/them'

Gen Z friends. (Getty Images)
Gen Z are more accepting of newer ideas around gender. (Getty Images)

Nearly a quarter (23%) of Gen Z now identify using a non-gendered pronoun like 'they/them', according to a new study.

Younger generations are openly embracing differences between birth sex and gender identification – though this can't be said for the whole population, as highlighted by the survey of 2,036 Brits.

Nearly half (48%) of those polled aged 18-24 now state their pronoun on their email signature or social profiles.

While this is intended to help normalise being aware of what people's pronouns are – words we use in everyday language to refer to ourselves or others – and using them correctly, many respondents see it as 'virtue-signalling'.

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They pronoun, identity pronouns, referred gender pronouns. Conceptual gender pronoun image used to refer to nonbinary, genderfluid or genderqueer folks. Image shot on white background with copy space.
They/their/them are non-gendered pronouns. (Getty Images)

Overall, nearly half (45%) of those polled were supportive of people having the right to identify with a gender other than their birth sex, but as many as 34% were against it, and 19% undecided.

It seems to be older generations who aren't so sure. Overall, the majority of the British public thinks the debate has gone too far, with 62% believing the issue is now 'disproportionately' represented in public discourse. But this rises to 78% among those over 65, and falls to 48% of Gen Z.

A similar majority (63%) think British institutions are over-reacting to sensitivities around pronouns. This sentiment peaks in those aged 55-64 (79%), and falls to just 33% among 18-24-year-olds, of which 44% think it is proportionate.

There's also opposition among older generations towards the removal of pronouns in phrases like 'Gingerbread Man' in favour of 'Gingerbread person', according to the study. Other more everyday examples could be 'businessperson' instead of 'businessman' or 'actor' for all genders, to be more inclusive.

More than half (55%) of those over-45 think the English language should not be changed in this way, but this falls to a third (33%) among younger generations (18-44) – in fact, nearly a quarter of them (23%) think these types of changes are needed to 'keep up with the times'.

Meanwhile, more than half of Gen Z are supportive of customer-facing workers being given the option to state their chosen pronoun on name badges, but this falls to just 16% among those over 55.

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Candid portrait of woman in her 60s with grey hair, in conversation with friends, sitting at table with food and drink, woman listening in foreground
'There's a clear generational divide among the British public when it comes to the subject of gender identity.' (Getty Images)

It appears different age groups can agree on one thing. Across them all, there is sympathy for those who misgender people and get it wrong, with the survey citing when BBC's Alex Jones did this in an interview with Sam Smith, using 'fisherman' instead of 'fisherthem'. Some 47% believe this is 'understandable'.

However, 38% agree that a person who identifies as they/them still has the right to be offended when someone doesn't use their correct pronouns, rising to 65% among Gen Z.

The generational divide is evident again, however, when it comes to schools and how the issue should be handled there.

Six in 10 18-24-year-olds agree schools should do more to educate children on the use of non-binary pronouns, but only 20% of those over 65 think the same.

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"Our findings show a clear generational divide among the British public when it comes to the subject of gender identity," says Harry Gove, research director at OnePoll.

"Those aged 18-24 in particular are much more accepting of new ideas in this area, which older respondents may be less sure about."

While they/them pronouns are gender-neutral, he/him or she/her are generally considered gendered terms. Some people may wish to use more than one set of pronouns, feeling comfortable with both they/them and he/hm or she/her.

Additional reporting SWNS.

Watch: Jamie Lee Curtis giving Oscar statuette they/them pronouns