A Matter of Respect: Gender-Neutral Pronoun Guide and Discussion

Wish her all the best. I can only thank her for researching on Nepali plant species. Numerous plants have been used by us for medicinal purposes. I’ve heard Titepani helps in skin related issues, although not sure.
Also, hajur lai subhakamana, hajur ko stay ramro rahos. We always love our guests, hope people are equally, if not more, welcoming than last time you were in valley.
One more thing, related to topic, in a historic decision, the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage recently in late June.


this thread is actually really informative so thank you for making it!! learning a lot

1 Like

Hi everyone. I’ve been struggling to come up with a certain form of address for NB protagonists in my game, and I was hoping someone around here might have some advice for me. (I hope this is the right thread for it—if not, my apologies)

So basically my game is set in a somewhat old-fashioned and socially rigid society (think Victorian era) with a young protagonist, and I don’t know what would be appropriate as a formal honorific for NB PCs.

For males and females I’m using Master and Miss respectively, but I have no idea what equivalent non-binary honorific I could use (and I don’t want something like Mx that’s pulled straight from the modern era). In some contexts I think the word “one” fits fairly well (young master/young miss/young one), but it’s not a straight replacement because it doesn’t work in certain situations. For example, say I want to refer to the PC by name, Master John works, but One John clearly doesn’t.

Has anyone here, by chance, encountered this specific problem before, or have any suggestions for a gender-neutral equivalent (something that sounds polite and respectful) to Master and Miss?


I unfortunately know no equivalent for what you’re asking and this is not really the suggestion you’ve asked for, but I hope this helps nonetheless. I think what you could do is give the option for NB folk to choose the form of address they’re referred to. For example, you first ask their gender and then ask something like “…and people usually refer to be by Master/Miss”. Alternatively, allowing the player to input the form of address they wish to use could also work, which I think coding-wise is no extra effort on your part. English is not my native tongue, so take this last suggestion with a grain of salt, but I could see Master being used as gender-neutral if all other options are not viable.


Mistrum (based on the Latin grammatical neuter) or Mastress


What about using male forms of reference for NB character? Master feels much more gender-neutral to me than Mistress, and it’s common to see nonbinary people here use masculine forms of words. Male forms of words are considered gender-neutral.


I’m not sure if this fits in your context nor language (my basis for this isn’t in English), but what about “the honorable” as a form of address?

In dialogue, if someone addresses the PC by name, it would be “Master John”, “Miss John”, or “The Honorable John”.


The perceived gender neutrality of masculinity is an artifact of a cultural value set that treats manhood as the default and womanhood as the abberation. This makes some nonbinary folks okay with using masculine terminology for themselves (honestly, I usually am), but that is far from universal. There’s also a difference between interactions between living humans where sometimes there isn’t really a choice except to pick one and an interactive space written to be inclusive–I might be willing to let someone call me Mr at a restaurant where I don’t feel like teaching them about “Mx”, but if I’m playing a game advertised to allow me to play an explicitly gender neutral character, I don’t want to be treated like a male one. Nonbinary people, even masculine nonbinary people, aren’t men.


If mr. is short for mister,
Can Mixter not be used or Maxter?
Just curious though…
I have a very little knowledge about these things.

1 Like

I have! I had this decision to make in a class-rigid but non cisheteronormative 1920s-flavoured society in which I wanted nonbinary people to be treated as commonplace and “established” in the culture. In the end I went with Mx, which doesn’t feel totally perfect because it does feel more modern than Miss/Master, but at the same time made-up honorifics didn’t quite gel with me.

I think made-up ones can work well though, something like @AletheiaKnights suggests, or similar. I’ve seen “ser” used in some settings; in a medieval-ish fantasy game I worked on, we used “Count/Countess/Conte” and “Baron/Baroness/Barone” - something like that could work if aristocratic-type titles are being used, or The Honourable also works. I’ve used Honoured, Esteemed, Royal, and Noble in my games.

For more “ordinary” titles in English, though - the Mr/Ms/Mrs/Miss/Master type ones that are neither professional nor aristocratic - I’m not sure there are ones that have an “old-fashioned”/“traditional” feel because it’s relatively recently that gender-neutral honorifics of that kind are widely used in English. In Sunless Sea, Sunless Skies and Fallen London, there are a lot of professional and colloquial gender-neutral ways of being addressed in a Victorian setting that may bring inspiration. You may also find it useful to research Victorian queer/trans people and communities (or people whom we might think of as queer and trans these days), and how they talked about themselves, especially if you’re going for something closer to real-world history. I haven’t read it myself but have heard good things about Before We Were Trans by Dr Kit Heyam.

I think it’s OK to go the “I’m nonbinary but people call me…” route but it’s worth considering what that says about the setting (ie that the culture isn’t one where nonbinary people are fully culturally recognised) and whether that’s what you want.

I don’t love the idea of using a gendered term like Master or Miss for nonbinary PCs unless the player has picked it, as players will likely either assume that the author is choosing to misgender nonbinary PCs, or that it’s a bug. Which would be a shame!


Thanks everyone for the advice, and especially @HarrisPS for the detailed answer, it’s given me lots of options to consider. I think I’m leaning towards one of the terms @AletheiaKnights suggested, or something similar—I don’t think it would sound that strange given it’s a fantasy setting, as opposed to Mx, which for me just feels too out of place to use outside of modern day settings.

But regardless, I appreciate all the posts and the different perspectives put forward. Very educational thread, especially for those such as myself who haven’t had much prior exposure to NB perspectives and issues.


Please keep the focus of this thread narrow and on point.

1 Like

And that’s not the worst part. Last couple games I checked had such a bad story and writing I didn’t even finish them but for like A LOT of beginning of the story was focusing on genders/sexuality/pronouns of MC and all(!) associated characters.

I wish authors to focus more on actual story and writing, making game and characters interesting than wasting players time on choosing pronouns for half an hour… It became quite popular I’m afraid. And yeah, especially adding “them” is super confusing - additionally put it to the fictional world and you spend ages figuring out what is actually happening right now and how many people are there instead just enjoying game.


The ability to select pronouns is very important to some players.

Excessively frontloaded customisation can weigh down the pace, but that doesn’t mean it’s inherently bad. It’s just a possible fault of execution; pronouns and gender shouldn’t need an awful lot of menus.


I have sympathy for difficulties with grammar, but allowing characters with they/them pronouns in a game doesn’t affect whether a game/characters are interesting.

As mentioned above, a customisation overload can happen whatever pronouns any characters are using.


My first ever WIP here literally have everyone using they/them pronouns in the first chapter (which is all that was ever posted), and I had much less complaints about that than I had expected. People get used to things.
It was a much bigger problem that I kept forgetting to change the verbs whenever I changed whether a sentence used ‘they’ or the character’s name.

As a non-native english speaker, sure, I understand the difficulty of getting used to singular they/them, just like any other grammar or language thing you need to learn, that might not feel very intuitive.
Though actually, I found getting used o it in english much easier that the equivalent in my native danish (because we traditionally use ‘they/them’ as a formal version of ‘you’ so thinking of it as third person was very weird at first)

As for being confused about who is being talked about, I’ve found through the years that it isn’t actually that much more confusing, than using ‘he’ when there’s a whole group of men present. You can usually understand who is being talked about from the context, at least after your brain has gotten used to they being singular.

All that said, ‘wasting players time on choosing pronouns for half an hour’ must be hyperbole, since even the most gender-customizable games I’ve ever played (which wasn’t even CS games) didn’t take more than a minute or two to get through that part.
And don’t worry, it doesn’t take long to code in at all (and once you’ve done it for one game, you can copy-paste most of it to others), so it doesn’t get in the way of developing plot and characters.


personally They/them I’m okay with. It’s the others ‘Zhi or Xie’ that completely throw me off. I swear at one point in a game where it was used I though it was an npc name :rofl: I know, dumbass. Was trying to figure out who was called that.


Ong, Bro those sound like codenames, “Agent Zhi, you copy?”

1 Like

Please keep in mind that we have plenty of real people on the forum with they/them pronouns or neopronouns - it isn’t simply an academic or fictional exercise - and we hear that our pronouns are difficult or confusing very, very often. It is tiring, at best.


It has been four years since first stated, but it is worth repeating once more:

When someone is referred to with the wrong pronoun, it can make them feel disrespected, invalidated, dismissed, alienated, or dysphoric. (often all of the above.)

Take a moment to read Hannah’s post and digest what they are saying.

It is a privilege to not have to worry about which pronoun someone is going to use for you based on how they perceive your gender.

If you have this privilege, yet fail to respect someone else’s gender identity, it is not only disrespectful and hurtful, but also oppressive.

It is indescribable when your very existence is challenged daily.