The day President Joe Biden was sworn in, the White House website was updated to allow visitors to specify what pronouns they use.
LGBTQ advocates see the change as a small but symbolic example of the Biden administration reaching out to transgender and nonbinary Americans.
On Wednesday, the contact form at WhiteHouse.gov added a drop-down menu with pronoun options, including “she/her,” “he/him,” and “they/them.” Users can also select “other,” and write in their own selections or indicate they “prefer not to share” their pronouns.
The list of prefixes has also been updated to include the gender-neutral “Mx.” along with “Mr.” “Mrs.” and “Ms.”
Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, former White House LGBTQ liaison under the Obama administration and the first openly transgender person to work as a White House staffer, said, “It’s truly wonderful to see the White House so sensitively and prominently signal inclusion.”
“Allowing visitors, whether transgender, nonbinary or cisgender-identified, to indicate their preferred pronouns when visiting the home of President Biden, demonstrates the kind of welcoming place 1600 Pennsylvania will now be for all Americans,” she told NBC News.
Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD, called the update “more than just a demonstration of allyship.”
“Research has shown that recognition and respect of our pronouns can make all the difference for our health and well being — especially when it comes to LGBTQ youth,” Ellis said in a statement.
Shortly after Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration, the White House website removed a page dedicated to LGBTQ rights that had been published during the Obama administration.
The Biden administration did not respond to a request for comment about whether the page would be restored. As of Thursday morning, it was still down. The White House did restore a Spanish-language translation of the website and add new accessibility options, The New York Times reported.
The Biden administration's inclusive pronoun options are in sharp contrast to the Trump White House, which refused to use female pronouns when referring to Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman at the center of the landmark 2020 Supreme Court case Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia.
A 2018 survey from the Pew Research Center found more than 40 percent of Americans believe forms should include gender options beyond “male and female.” And roughly 1 in 5 Americans said they know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns, according to a separate Pew survey from 2019.
Currently, 19 states and Washington, D.C., recognize nonbinary gender markers on IDs and driver’s licenses and 13 allow such designations on birth certificates, according to the Movement Advancement Project.
One in 4 LGBTQ youth use pronouns or pronoun combinations that fall outside of the gender binary, according to The Trevor Project, a suicide-prevention hotline for queer youth. Most use some combination of conventional pronouns — "he and they" or "she and they," for example — though 4 percent use "neopronouns," including “ze/zir,” “xe/xim” and “fae/faer.”
“Respecting pronouns is part of creating a supportive and accepting environment, which impacts well-being and reduces suicide risk,” the Trevor Project said in a statement.