I am current a high school student and am taking mandarin at school. My teacher and I both identify as non-binary. After all the research I’ve done the closest thing I can find is 它, but from what I can tell that is really “it” and not used for people. I’d really like to find an alternative to 他 and 她.

  • 他 is used in gender neutral situations or when the gender is unknown. I got in an argument about this on duolingo that resulted in me being shadowbanned. I hope this isn't a case of you unwilling to accept how the language functions due to your radical political beliefs. Feb 23, 2020 at 1:44
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    他 used to be gender-neutral. 她 was invented in the 1920s. Today in speech it still doesn't matter because 他 and 她 sound exactly the same. In written form you can just call your teacher X老师 (X being your teacher's family name). This is more polite anyway. Third person pronoun with gender is not a universal concept. In many languages people just use expressions like 'that person'.
    – Betty
    Feb 23, 2020 at 7:35

1 Answer 1


Nowadays, it's common for authors use the English letters "TA" to avoid indicating a gender. For example:

Literal translation: They are what personality person?
Translation: What is their personality?

Many more examples are found in Baidu News by searching for "TA".

See also: What would a non-binary tā (他/她) look like?

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    This should still be considered informal.
    – fefe
    Feb 23, 2020 at 2:31
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    'Ta' is not 'English letters'. It's pinyin (Chinese romanization system).
    – Betty
    Feb 23, 2020 at 7:25
  • When I wrote the answer, I thought "maybe I should change 'English' to 'Latin'", but accepted that was a bit nit-picky. Sure, "TA" (as a whole) is derived from pinyin, but I feel it's reasonable to individually call "T" and "A" English letters.
    – Becky 李蓓
    Feb 23, 2020 at 7:52

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