The latest Economist/YouGov poll finds that half of Americans would feel somewhat or very uncomfortable using gender-neutral pronouns to refer to someone who asked them to do so. There are sharp differences in comfort level across partisan and educational lines. Also, one in four Americans say they’ve been asked or required to share their own pronouns at some point, either in person or on a form.
The Economist poll finds that 22% of Americans know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns such as “they” instead of “he” or “she.” (Another recent YouGov poll found a slightly higher figure of 27% by asking the question slightly differently; that poll also found that about the same share of Americans say they know someone who identifies as non-binary.) Last year, Pew Research Center published generally similar results using a slightly different methodology.
There are large differences in how likely different groups are to know a person who uses gender-neutral pronouns. Democrats are more likely to know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns than Republicans, younger Americans are more likely than older Americans, and adults with more formal education are more likely than those with less education.
There are broad differences by political party, education, age, sexual orientation, and gender in Americans’ comfort level using gender-neutral pronouns to refer to someone who asked them to. The partisan gap is especially big on this question; Democrats are most likely to say they would feel “very comfortable” using these pronouns, while Republicans are most likely to say they would feel “very uncomfortable.” Americans with a postgraduate degree are particularly likely to say they feel comfortable using gender-neutral pronouns, while Americans with less education are less likely to say they’d feel comfortable.
One in four Americans have been asked or required to share their own pronouns at some point, either in person or on a form. Democrats are about twice as likely as Republicans to say they’ve been asked to do so. Adults under 30 are especially likely to say they’ve been asked to share their pronouns: 38% say they have. A similar share of Americans with a postgraduate degree say they’ve been prompted to provide their pronouns. And half of people who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual have been asked to do so, far more than other groups studied.
– Carl Bialik and Linley Sanders contributed to this article
Economist/YouGov Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between March 12 – 15, 2022. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the 2018 American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as 2016 and 2020 Presidential votes (or non-votes). Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3% for the overall sample.