Press : German xier pronouns

Press in English on xier pronouns, which are German neopronouns can be found here. A German press page for xier pronouns and press on Illi Anna Heger in general is also available.


Beginners’ German. Learn Faster. Remember More.

Text Book by Rosi McNab, John Murray Press, ISBN 9781399812566, published 25.04.2024.

In German, we use these subject pronouns: er (he), sie (she), es (it) xier (they, gender neutral), sie (they plural). In German, sie can mean she or they (plural). Confusing? Check the verb – if the verb ends in -t, it means she. To describe someone, you say: er ist (he is), sie ist (she is), xier ist (they are), sie sind (they are, plural).

Gender inclusivity across the curriculum

Book Chapter by L.D. Preseau, L. Spino, N. Tracksdorf in „Redoing Linguistic Worlds: Unmaking Gender Binaries, Remaking Gender Pluralities“ editied by Kris Aric Knisely, Eric Louis Russell, at Mulitlingual Matters, published 16.01.2024.

The neologism xier is similar in many ways, though its history is distinctively German. It was invented by artist and linguistic activist Illi Anna Heger, who, in 2020, originally proposed this ‘Pronomen ohne Geschlecht’ (pronoun without gender) as sier (shehe), a portmanteau of sie und er. […] Two years later, Heger updated their website based on user feedback with the addition of the form xier, which is similar to sier but has since come into more widespread usage.


Usage and Translation of (Neo-)Pronouns German Translations of singular they/them

Essay for University Studies vyon Theo Kittlitzb, Global British Studies, Institut für Anglistik, Universität Leipzig, published 06.09.2023.

In the case of a German translation, translators have to decide individually how the singular they can be translated. This has led to various options on the translation of singular they, such as xier or dey.

Now EasyJet introduces gender pronoun name badges

Daily Mail Article by Olivia Jones, on, 06.06.2023 (accessed 30.06.2023).

EasyJet has become the latest employer to introduce gender pronoun name badges for its staff – with more than 25 options available. The plane crew can choose from both English options as well as pronouns used in other languages such as ze/zir/zirs, xe/xem/xyrs and xier/xies/dier.

Gender-Fair Language in Translation: A Case Study

Conference Paper by Angela Balducci Paolucci, Manuel Lardelli and Dagmar Gromann, Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Gender-Inclusive Translation Technologies, published 01.06.2023.

Furthermore, several neopronouns have been proposed. For instance, xier is the result of the combination of third person singular female sie and male er pronoun and has already been used in the translation of some English language TV series.

GCSE and A-Level students will be able to use the gender neutral pronouns

Daily Mail Article on, 27.02.2023 (accessed 08.03.2023).

Exam board Pearson has advised schools that using masculine and feminine pronouns in foreign languages may not be inclusive to pupils who identify as ‘gender-fluid’. Instead, those taking GCSEs and A-Levels can swap the traditional ‘elle’ (she) or ‘il’ (he) in French for the gender-neutral ‘iel’ or ‘ille’. Those studying German can use the word ‘xier’, while ‘nosotres’ can be used in Spanish.

Integration and disruption: A preliminary typology of pronomial innovatio strategies

Artikel by Julian A. Rott, within the seminar “Grammatical and social facets of gender”, Leibniz Zentrum Berlin, published 16.02.2023.

Disruptive pronouns are purposefully given unexpected or marked features as an activist means of calling attention to discrimination. This may happen orthographically and/or phonologically, often using the glyph and possibly its phonologic value as an iconic marker (e.g. German xier, Spanish ellx, Chinese X也).

A Guide to Gender-Neutral Language In Marketing

Article by Crisol Translation Services, 28.01.2023 (accessed 14.04.2023)

In terms of german gender-neutral pronouns, pronouns “ich,” “du,” “wir,” and “uns” are indeed gender-neutral, and neo-pronouns like “xier” and “sier” have emerged as a gender-inclusive alternative to traditional 3rd-person pronouns.


Supporting LGBT+ Students in the Language Classroom

Article by Alysha Holmquist Posner, Mariah Ligas and Ben Fisher-Rodriguez for the Website “Mr. Fisher Says… Teaching, Language Acquisition, Comprehensible Input, Giggling”, 24.11.2022 (accessed 26.12.2022)

Whenever I do teach “xier” as a nonbinary pronoun in German, for example, I make sure to let students know that some German speakers may not recognize it, either because of not having heard of it yet or because they deny the existence of nonbinary people. (And then they might have linguistic qualms with it!) I also explain that there may be more NB pronouns that are less common, but still used. (Neopronouns abound!) I think ultimately, a nonbinary learner asking for information about this is seeking mostly to know that their nonbinary identity will be validated 1) in the language used in class and 2) by their instructor.

Gender Issues and Inclusiveness in contemporary Italian and Comparison with other Languages

Thesis by Matteo Zamboni, Scuola superiore per mediatori linguistici gonzaga, published 01.10.2022.

This language – like others – is facing a rise in proposals for the so-called neopronouns, which avoid gender binarism. Xier is probably the most relevant example. This pronoun can be used instead of the er (M) and sie (F) personal pronouns; its correspondent possessive pronouns alternatively to sein (M) and ihr (F) is xies, while the determinative article and the relative pronoun is dier instead of der (M) and die (F). These elements must be declined according to the case needed among nominative, genitive, accusative and dative.

Speaking About People of Non-Binary Sex/Gender in Croatianin Croatian

Article by Ana Mihaljević, Josip Mihaljević and Josip Mihaljević, Milica Mihaljević, Milica Mihaljev, in “Collegium antropologicum”, Vol. 46 No. 3, 19.09.2022, pages 175-185, ISSN 1848-9486.

In German, the pronoun xier (xieser, xiem, xien, xies, xiese, xiesem) instead of sie and er has been suggested.[…] A new pronoun could be introduced in Croatian following the Swedish, German, Spanish, and French model. The pronoun onie has been suggested. Also, pronouns onu or onx (following the English model) could be suggested.

Religion and Intersex

Textbook by Stephanie A. Budwey, Routledge, ISBN 9780429671043, 25.08.2022.

All three of these forms of inclusive language may be used to create a gender-neutral pronoun: sie_er, sie*er, or sie:er. Additionally, there are other gender-neutral pronouns that have been created, such as ‘xier’ (Heger, n.d.).

First the Worst: Finding Better Gender Translations

Article by Danielle Saunders, Rosie Sallis, and Bill Byrne, in “Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics”, pages 3814–3823, Dublin, Ireland, Association for Computational Linguistics, published 01.05.2022.

Another benefit of our approach is flexibility to introducing new gendered vocabulary, […] where a German translation includes der Mitarbeiter, the employee (masculine), we substitute DEFNOM MitarbeiterNEND. This allows later replacement of DEFNOM by e.g. dier or NEND by _in, but remains flexible to preferences for new gendered language.

From Ey to Ze: Gender-neutral Pronouns as Pronominal Change

Dissertation by Katrina Callaway, page 53, University of Georgia, Athens, USA, 01.05.2022.

Academic studies of German pronouns are even scanter. Perhaps the most currently-discussed version is one proposed by Anna Heger, the xier set (observe the parallels to the English xe/xie). This is xier/xieser/xiem/xien in the personal, dier/dies/diem/dien in the relative, and xies in the possessive.

Translating Change

Textbook by Ann Pattison and Stella Cragie, Routledge, ISBN 978-0367683245, 31.03.2022.

[…] in German, Anna Heger has been working on a whole declension table for the non-binary pronoun xier ( There is not intention for such systems to be prescriptive, merely for people to accept them when others use them.

Trans Linguistic Activism is About Asking for Basic Respect from Others

Article by Aris Keshav, in Social Science Space, 09.02.2022 (accessed 01.05.2022).

Linguists are also documenting trans and non-binary innovations in languages beyond English. […] German speakers have a diversity of strategies including the innovative pronouns “xier” and simply “x”. Others use borrowed English “they” pronouns while speaking German.

Grenzenlos Deutsch

Web Site by Brigetta M. Abel and Amy Young as project directors, on, published 22.01.2022.(updated 30.04.2024)

We […] also introduce two options for non-binary pronouns: the English they as a singular German pronoun and xier, a pronoun developed by Illi Anna Heger as a German equivalent to the singular they. Neither xier nor they has yet achieved widespread use in Germany, so if you travel abroad or speak to other German speakers, they might not use or recognize them. However, we wanted to introduce you to some pronoun options that you can use in your classroom […].


The power of words in machine translation

Article by Alana Cullen and Priyanka Dasgupta for Goethe Institut e.V., 02.07.2021 (accessed 09.07.2021).

And we haven’t even talked about alternate, non-binary pronouns yet that machine translations often misgender. The integration of non-binary, alternate or neo pronouns needs to grow in its practical aspects alongside the evolving cultural discussions on it. […] A viable option could be to treat gender as a spell check – providing choice to the user – this choice could incorporate non- binary pronouns, such as the German Xier- pronouns.

A Simple Guide To The Complex Topic Of Gender-Neutral Pronouns

Article by Steph Koyfman for, 14.06.2021 (accessed 05.07.21).

Germans are currently grappling with the question of whether it’d even be possible to neutralize the three-gendered noun system. The dialect Niederdeutsch manages to succeed at this, however, by eliminating der, die, das (the masculine, the feminine, the neutral) in favor of de. As for pronouns, you might encounter Germans who use sier and xier, but most people are unlikely to understand these outside of queer and activist spaces.

How linguistics is engaging with trans activism

Article by Aris Keshav, UC Santa Barbara, for LSA (Linguistic Society of America), 01.06.2021 (accessed 01.09.21).

German speakers have a diversity of strategies including the innovative pronouns “xier” and simply “x”. Others use borrowed English “they” pronouns while speaking German.

terms that require sensitivity in translation

Article by Anna von Rath and Lucy Gasser for Goethe-Institut, 28.02.2021 (accessed 05.07.21).

In queer communities in Germany, there are a number of pronouns, which have not (yet) become established in the mainstream, e.g. sif, sier or xier. Most often, the pronouns they/them are retained. Alternatively, in the German language, the pronoun can simply be avoided by repeating the name of the person: This is a solution that bypasses the problem, but it can lead to some very cumbersome formulations.

terms that require sensitivity in translation

Article by Anna von Rath and Lucy Gasser for Goethe-Institut, 28.02.2021 (accessed 05.07.21).

In queer communities in Germany, there are a number of pronouns, which have not (yet) become established in the mainstream, e.g. sif, sier or xier. Most often, the pronouns they/them are retained. Alternatively, in the German language, the pronoun can simply be avoided by repeating the name of the person: This is a solution that bypasses the problem, but it can lead to some very cumbersome formulations.


Article by Sharon Dodua Otoo for #deutschlandnofilter by Goethe-Institut, 25.02.2021 (accessed 05.07.21).

Option one would be to negate the existence of nonbinary people – or at a minimum, deny them the right to express their gender identity adequately within the German language. I find this option unacceptable, if not to say in breach of human rights. Option two would be to welcome the use of neo-pronouns, for example “xier” and “sier”.


Queering the German classroom

Overview by Carley Johnson, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2020 (accessed 23.10.2021).

Extensive research on non-binary pronouns in German is also being done by Anna Heger, who publishes her updated findings on her website.

Grenzenlos Deutsch an open-access curriculum for beginning German

Textbook Section in a project by Brigetta M. Abel and Amy Young,, 17.12.2020 (accessed 07.07.2021).

Some German speakers have adopted the English pronoun “they” as a gender neutral pronoun in German. Still others choose to avoid pronouns entirely and just use their first names instead. “Xier,” a pronoun developed by writer and artist Illi Anna Heger is also growing in popularity. We include both “xier” and “they” in Grenzenlos Deutsch even though you won’t find these pronouns in a German grammar manual and they might not be recognized by all German speakers.

Illi Anna Heger’s Grammatical Futurity

Article by Nichole Neuman, in “Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies”, vol. 56 Issue 3-4, pages 302-321, ISSN 0037-1939, veröffentlicht am 12.11.2020.

Heger’s Xier packt xiesen Koffer is the culmination of many iterations of thinking, writing about, and illustrating their discontent with the binary structure of personal pronouns in the German language. The comic-zine Xier itself provides some of its history, but a complete picture of Heger’s musings and long-term commitment to the creation and usage of gender-neutral pronouns in German fully emerges when Xier is read in tandem with their original blog posts. These posts mirror the evolution of Heger’s meditations on gender-neutral pronouns with an evolution in form from blog posts to differing media (a mini-comic, then the comic-zine).

Gender-inclusive language in German teaching

Article by Steffen Kaupp for the Website of Goethe-Institut, translated by Eric Rosencrantz , 01.09.2020

Needless to say, gender-inclusive instruction doesn’t stop at nouns. Starting with the neologism xier, a whole set of non-binary third-person pronouns coined by the German trans community is also catching on. You’ll find detailed instructions on how to use these personal pronouns on Illi Anna Heger’s website. As with gender-neutral nouns, the main thing is to raise learners’ awareness of these pronouns, so they don’t have to be covered in detail and discussed at great length.

How Temtem’s community helped Crema Games strive for inclusive language

Article by Astrid Johnson for, 03.07.2020 (accessed 05.07.2021)

Through the Temtem Twitter account, the studio asked for suggestions from the community. What were queer people from France and Germany using to refer to themselves, in place of anything suitable written into the rules of their own language? So far, there have been a few suggestions. User YokuHel, from France, said that they use iel/ellui, and linked an article that they’d written about how to use gender-neutral language in French. Roguedrgn suggested Xier as a pronoun many queer people use in Germany.

Together in Colour

Article by Daniel Welsch for the Website of Goethe-Institut, translated by Faith Ann Gibson, 17.07.2020.

Illi Anna Heger created one of these alternatives, the non-binary pronoun “xier.” “My pronoun, the xier pronoun, it is sometimes used by trans people, but a lot of people on the trans spectrum are actually using he and she pronouns,” says Illi Anna Heger. “This is something the person in question should decide. Xier is not a trans pronoun per se, it’s a pronoun that could be helpful for non-binary people and that could be used to talk about everybody when you don’t know the genders.”

I usually recommend „xier“

Tweet von @cuffedCatling, 30.06.2020,

I usually recommend „xier“. Not because it is the most used pronoun by nonbinary people (it isn’t, and there isn’t one), but because it is one of the oldest german neopronouns for the current generation of queers, and because all the alternatives have big flaws in my opinion

— hungryKitten (@cuffedCatling) June 30, 2020

Inclusion and Exclusion of Gender, Social Class, Race and Ability in Elementary German Textbooks

Master Thesis by Emmalie Keenan, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 01.07.2020.

Diversity in gender in elementary German does not need to complicate learning objectives. Including non-binary pronouns is the first step to being inclusive of gender diversity. Non-binary pronouns are pronouns for people who do not identify with feminine or masculine pronouns. The most common option in the United States is they/them and in Germany is xier/xien/xiem. This should be done with the introduction of all pronouns, and continue to be included whenever pronouns are used in all levels of German.

Please Don’t Gender Me! – Strategies for Inclusive Language Instruction in a Gender-Diverse Campus Community

Book Chapter by Angineh Djavadghazaryans, in “Diversity and Decolonization in German Studies”, pages 269-287, Palgrave Macmillan Cham, ISBN 978-3-030-34341-5, published13.02.2020.

As these language patterns have not been officially adapted into the language, there exist no universally accepted options and new language forms are still emerging […] Just like English, German has several sets of gender-neutral pronouns. The most commonly used and most developed throughout the cases appears to be xier (Xier geht heute einkaufen) while x, nin, seis, sei, sif and sier are lesser known options.


Decolonizing the Curriculum

Article by Regine Criser and Suzuko Knott, in “Die Unterrichtspraxis/Teaching German” special issue Spezialausgabe “Teaching German Studies in a Global Context”, vol. 52 issue 2, published 06.09.2019.

Decolonizing pedagogy equips our students with the tools necessary to truly meet the Can-Do Statements of the novice benchmark, as it encourages the application of more accurate and authentic vocabulary that aligns with our students’ familiar and everyday lives. For example, when we introduce German pronouns, we can choose to include the nonbinary pronoun xier as part and parcel of learning pronouns in the target language. Introducing nonbinary pronouns together with […] er and sie allows students to choose their preferred pronoun without having to ask and also works to center nonbinary and genderqueer students who might otherwise be marginalized. The authors present xier together with er and sie when they teach pronouns by including xier in all pronoun charts and learning materials.

Impuls Deutsch 1

Text Book by Niko Tracksdorf, Nicole Coleman, Damon Rarick and Friedemann Weidauer, Klett USA Inc, Page 14, ISBN 978-3-12-605300-6, published 01.07.2019.

There are several gender neutral pronouns in German, and the most widely used one is xier (see below), though nin is also common. Ask your instructor for more resources if you would like to learn more about gender neutral pronouns.


Will a New Law Forever Change the German Language?

Article by Madhvi Ramani for, 28.02.2018

Artist Anna Heger’s suggestion of xier as a personal pronoun, with nouns referring to people modified by an underscore to be made gender neutral (Lehr_erin), could be used for people who do not identify as either male or female as well as when gender is irrelevant.