‘She’ or ‘he’ just doesn’t cut it when it comes to singular pronouns in the English language.
Especially in a time when the lines between traditional ideas of the gender binary are being blurred or erased entirely, finding a gender-neutral, singular pronoun has become a topic of much debate. It has been argued that using ‘he’ as a gender-neutral pronoun is acceptable, but this has come up against a lot of criticism due to the inherent sexism in that claim: To say that a masculine gendered pronoun is the neutral norm implies that a feminine gendered pronoun is somehow ‘other.’
Since the 14th century, there have been records of the use of ‘they’ in reference to a singular person, also known as the Singular They. To many, this gender-neutral Singular They is the ideal substitute to using a gendered pronoun. However, it has long been the target of criticism among scholars and laypeople alike on whether or not the Singular They is ‘correct’ English.
With the rise of social media and transgender rights discourse, there have been even more cases for the need to flex the English language for a gender neutral pronoun. Neologisms such as ‘ze’ or ‘zir’ have been created, but for many people, those new pronouns are too farfetched. For others, ‘they’ will always be touted as a plural pronoun without any flexibility to be singular in certain contexts.
None of these cases have been conclusive. The jury is still out on a widely-accepted gender-neutral, singular pronoun.