Gender and sexuality language

In general, under AP Style, note that gender is not synonymous with sex. Gender refers to a person’s social identity, while sex refers to biological characteristics. Not all people fall under one of two categories for sex or gender, according to leading medical organizations, so avoid references to both, either or opposite sexes or genders as a way to encompass all people. When needed for clarity or in certain stories about scientific studies, alternatives include men and women, boys and girls, males and females. Language around gender is evolving based on necessity and audience. See entries on cisgender, gender-nonconforming; homosexual, homosexuality; LGBT, LGBTQ, LGBTQIA; nonbinary; pronouns; transgender; transition, gender transition.

For guidance on pronouns, see guidelines under “pronouns/he,” which can prove useful when writing about members of the university community who do not wish to be identified as ‘him’ or ‘her.’ If unclear, the writer should check directly with the person on personal preference. In copy, if traditional pronouns are not preferred, then provide an explanation, either in text or as a footnote, explaining the reason for the nontraditional pronoun with a link to gender pronouns page on For additional information and a quick reference guide, see gender pronouns information on

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