The Necessity Of Pronouns As a Characteristic Of An Identity

Pronouns are those words that are a substitute for nouns, that allow for a person to be recognized without using his/her name. Examples of the same would be the words such as ‘I’, ‘you’, ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘this’, ‘that’ etc. As per the rules of grammar, he is used to indicate anything masculine, she is used for anything feminine, andthat/this is used for denoting objects. This system has developed keeping the binary gender roles of society in mind. This reference is made to anything that has two genders, such as humans, animals, birds, fishes, insects, etc. Pronouns are used as a system of denoting things that do not in itself have a gender but are perceived to do so. This varies depending on languages. Some languages have only 2 genders – masculine and feminine and some have recognised a neutral gender as well, to refer to inanimate objects. But regardless of how a language is, most of the languages do not recognise the third gender.


Law has a different connotation altogether. Prior to the NALSA judgement[1], the General Clauses Act prevailed, which has specified that in all the legislations that are enacted, any mention to the male gender shall also include the female gender, [2] in both singular as well as plural, as the case maybe [3]. This allows for a clear interpretation of the terms‘he’,‘his’ or ‘himself’ and so on as something to mean both the genders.The effect of the NALSA judgement has been altering the interpretation of the provisions of the General Clauses Act to include the third gender as well. This means that the words he, his or himself and the like, will now include the third gender as well. This allows for transgenders to be granted fundamental rights, civil rights, political rights, and all other rights that a man or a woman has by virtue of them being so. Moreover, the judgement has also ordered for implementation of the inclusion of the category of ‘third gender’ in terms of building restrooms, granting reservation in education, and for other beneficial rights to be granted too[4].



The NALSA judgement has been revolutionary in terms of changing the fate of the transgenders, but that recognition has not been translated to the language as such, in terms of pronouns. The incorporation of the third gender has been visible in many areas. But if the inclusion of their existence is not visible in the languages that we speak, then the inclusion seems to be not of much use. The transgenders have been referred to with indecent terms in many languages. People are changing now, and some have come to accept transgenders too. In such a scenario, not giving the changing people a proper avenue to be able to express themselves, hinders both the transgenders as well as those who are referring to them.



This calls for creation of a gender-neutral pronoun, which does not refer to inanimate objects, but one that refers to those who do not to confer themselves to the standards imposed by virtue of the binary gender. Creation of such a pronoun in one language, will cause a ripple effect and give cause to the other languages to create a similar word too. But which language would take the initiative is the question. In my opinion, the language that should be doing this is the English language. This is the language that has an amalgamation of words from various languages that are spread across the world. It is a collection of words from French, German, Spanish, Sanskrit, and so many other languages. When such a mixture of words is allowed, then the language can create words as well and hence there should be a pronoun created for reference to transgenders as well. Moreover, it is the second most spoken language in the world, which makes it important. Such a creation would go a long way in terms of uplifting the status of the transgender community in the world.




Aparna Venkataraman

Second Year, Tamil Nadu National Law University


[1]AIR 2014 SC 1863

[2] Sec 13(1), The General Clauses Act 1897

[3] Sec 13(2), The General Clauses Act 1897


[4] Ibid.

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