Mar 152019

They, Hirself, Em, and You: Nonbinary pronouns in research and practice

June 11-13, 2019

Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario


They, Hirself, Xem, and You (THEY) is a three-day conference bringing together linguists and other researchers and practitioners working on topics relating to nonbinary pronouns in English. The goal of this conference is to bring together researchers working on topics relating to nonbinary gender (usage, users, and user experiences) in language, particularly in pronouns, in order to both raise the profile of this research within linguistics and other disciplines, and to build resources that can be used by educators, policy makers, community advocates, and researchers in other fields.

It will include two interleaved tracks of talks and presentations (more below): one featuring research from linguistics, and one featuring scholars and practitioners from other fields. There will also be a series of four invited keynote talks, open to the public, and one of the conference outputs will be a resource compiling information and resources on nonbinary pronouns, for general use.

Keynote Speakers:

  • Lauren Ackerman, Newcastle University
  • Kirby Conrod, University of Washington
  • Lex Konnelly, University of Toronto
  • Brooke Larson

Organizing Committee:

  • Bronwyn Bjorkman, Queen’s University (Linguistics)
  • Lee Airton, Queen’s University (Education)
  • Lex Konnelly, University of Toronto (Linguistics & Sexual Diversity Studies)


THEY features two tracks of talks and presentations: one featuring research from linguistics (L- Track), and one featuring scholars and practitioners from other fields (O-Track). Each track has a separate call for papers, proposal format, and submission deadline. Please ensure that your submission follows the format for your desired track.

When you submit your proposal, please indicate either “L-Track Proposal” or “O-Track Proposal” in the subject line of your email to

When preparing your proposal for either track, please note that THEY as a conference exclusively focuses on nonbinary language in English. This is for reasons of consistency across sessions and in recognition of the fact that issues germane to language change in English are not universal or transferable.

Anyone interested in organizing a panel discussion in within or across tracks in lieu of submitting individual proposals is invited to contact the organizers directly at

L-Track Call for Proposals

We invite L-Track proposals for talks presenting research relating to nonbinary gender in language, or language use in nonbinary and trans communities. Proposals are welcome from any subdiscipline of linguistics, including (but not limited to) sociolinguistics, theoretical linguistics, psycholinguistics, and applied linguistics.

Talks will be 20 minutes long; depending on the volume of submissions a poster session may be added to the program.

L-Track Review Process

L-Track proposals will undergo blind review.

L-Track Proposal Format

L-Track proposals should be in the form of a one-page abstract (minimum font size 11pt), including any linguistic examples; a second page may be attached with references and figures, if needed. Abstracts should be submitted via email to, with “L- Track Proposal” in the subject line, by the deadline of March 31, 2019 (11PM Eastern). Please ensure that the abstract, including its file name, does not include any information identifying the author(s).

Notification of L-Track acceptance will be sent out by April 10, 2019.

O-Track Call for Proposals

We invite O-Track proposals for presentations on the conference theme, whether or not these are academic or supported by a formal academic paper. O-Track proposals may directly engage themes related but not limited to:

  • nonbinary, genderqueer and/or transgender peoples’ experiences with nonbinary language including (but not limited to) gender-neutral pronouns (GNP)
  • intersectionality in nonbinary language and/or communities;
  • the impact of nonbinary language on institutions, relationships, practices, etc.
  • support or advocacy for nonbinary language and/or GNP users in various forums (e.g., media, academia, popular culture, policy) and contexts (e.g., schools; health, social or community services; workplaces);
  • thoughts on future directions in nonbinary language and/or GNP usage.

Importantly, O-Track invites both original scholarship i.e., formal papers or presentations on work that has not been published or made available elsewhere, and papers or presentations that bring out relevant themes from previously public or published work.

O-Track Review Process

As we are aiming to maximize the participation of people from outside of Linguistics, we are offering two review options for O-track submission.

If you require blind review in order to receive funds or institutional recognition of your participation, we have a blind review option (1). If not, we offer a non-blind review option (2) where acceptance is adjudicated on the basis of relevance and available space in the program. Please indicate your preference when you submit your proposal. If no review preference is indicated, proposals shall receive non-blind review.

O-Track Proposal Format

O-Track proposals include: a 150-200-word abstract describing the topic, scope and aims of the presentation or paper; brief biographical information about the presenter(s); your preference for blind or non-blind review.

Proposals should be submitted via email to, with “O-Track Proposal” in the subject line, by the deadline of April 30, 2019 (11PM Eastern).

Notification of O-Track acceptance will be sent out by May 7, 2019.