White House website adds gender-neutral pronouns as Biden meets LGBT+ demands

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
A man waves a rainbow flag in front of the US Supreme Court that released a decision that says federal law protects LGBTQ workers from discrimination. (File)
A man waves a rainbow flag in front of the US Supreme Court that released a decision that says federal law protects LGBTQ workers from discrimination. (File)
Jim Watson, AFP

People can now select gender-neutral pronouns when contacting the US government, as President Joe Biden signed a raft of executive actions on his first day in office, including an order tackling discrimination against LGBT+ people.

People who identify as non-binary - neither male nor female - can now select the gender-neutral title "Mx" on the White House website's contact page, which also added a drop-down list of personal pronouns, including "they/them".

The website update marks a departure from Donald Trump's administration, which banned transgender people from enlisting in the military and issued orders emphasising the importance of "biological sex" rather than gender identity.

LGBT+ advocates welcomed the new approach.

"On Day One, the Biden administration has taken immediate steps to include trans, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people in the conversation," Sarah Kate Ellis, head of U.S. LGBT+ advocacy group GLAAD, said in an emailed statement.

Research has shown that recognition and respect of our pronouns can make all the difference for our health and wellbeing - especially when it comes to LGBTQ youth.


A survey of more than 40 000 LGBT+ 13- to 24-year-olds by youth advocacy group The Trevor Project, found 28% of those who said no one used their chosen pronouns had attempted suicide in the previous year, versus 12% of those who said most people did.

On Wednesday, Biden also signed an executive order that said federal agencies must not discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity when implementing existing federal laws that bar discrimination on the basis of sex.

That will apply in areas including "education, housing, credit and healthcare", Graciela Gonzales, a spokesperson for LGBT+ legal advocacy group Lambda Legal, said by email.

"Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports," Biden's order said.

"Adults should be able to earn a living and pursue a vocation knowing that they will not be fired, demoted, or mistreated because of whom they go home to or because how they dress does not conform to sex-based stereotypes."

Biden published a lengthy list of LGBT+ pledges during the presidential campaign and said he wanted to sign the Equality Act, which would explicitly outlaw discrimination against LGBT+ people - during his first 100 days in office.

Biden also revoked a Trump order that had banned federal diversity training to combat racist, sexist and homophobic bias, as part of his "order on advancing racial equity and support for underserved communities through the federal government".

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When a Covid-19 vaccine for under 16's becomes available, will you be taking your children to get it?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, immediately!
38% - 3957 votes
I'll wait to see how others respond
26% - 2705 votes
No, I don't think they need it
36% - 3817 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.36
(-0.59)
ZAR/GBP
21.23
(-0.01)
ZAR/EUR
18.30
(-0.08)
ZAR/AUD
11.79
(+0.03)
ZAR/JPY
0.14
(-0.27)
Gold
1701.28
(+0.43)
Silver
25.14
(-0.62)
Platinum
1123.50
(+0.62)
Brent Crude
67.21
(+4.17)
Palladium
2340.82
(+0.66)
All Share
68271.19
(+0.78)
Top 40
62906.81
(+1.06)
Financial 15
12759.80
(+0.67)
Industrial 25
87613.31
(-0.32)
Resource 10
70991.32
(+2.64)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo