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The Globe and Mail allows “they” to be used as a singular third-person pronoun. There are a few reasons for this.

When we refer to someone whose gender is not known, the default “he” has become outdated. So instead of saying, “Any high-performing athlete knows his success depends on rigorous training,” we would say “their success.” In some cases, we might obscure the gender to protect a source’s anonymity, so you might also see a phrase such as: “according to a government official who asked not to be named because they are not authorized to discuss the matter.”

The use of “they” also reflects shifting social attitudes toward gender representation. Some people choose to use “they” as a more neutral pronoun, because their identity does not fit within a binary concept of gender. For clarity, The Globe avoids using other gender-neutral pronouns, such as “ze,” “hir,” “e,” and others, because such pronouns are not yet widespread, using them risks confusing some readers and possibly distracting from the story. However, we do not impose a pronoun on someone who objects to it. Where “they” is not an acceptable gender-neutral alternative, we might simply repeat the person’s name rather than using a pronoun.