The following are some guidelines for writing about participants with respect.
1. The singular “they” is endorsed as the generic third person pronoun rather than the use of ‘he’ or ‘she’ to avoid assumptions about gender. When using a plural verb with the singular pronoun write “they are”.
2. Avoid ambiguity or assumptions when reporting gender identity by being specific about whether participants are cisgender, transgender, non-binary gender, or another gender identity. Cisgender refers to individuals whose sex assigned at birth aligns with their gender identity. Transgender refers to individuals whose gender identity does not conform to their sex assigned at birth. Use specific nouns to identify individuals or people (e.g. transgender man, cisgender female, gender-neutral person). Also, avoid gendered ending occupation titles. For example, the term "policemen" suggests male police officers. In contrast, the term "police officers" refers to all individuals.
3. The term "sexual orientation" is a preferable to "sexual preference". “Preference” suggests a level of voluntary choice that is not necessarily reported by all gender identities. Avoid the terms “homosexual” and “homosexuality.” Use specific identity-first terms to describe sexual orientation (e.g., bisexual people, a gay man, lesbian women).
4. When referring to someone who has a disability or illness, specifically adopt names of conditions or culturally respective terms. For instance, use the terminology, “An adult with schizophrenia” rather than “a schizophrenic”. Another example is that Deaf individuals culturally prefer to be called “Deaf” rather than “people who are deaf”.
5. When referring to the age of participants the following terminology is appropriate. For an individual 12 years old or under, use “child”, “boy”, “girl”, or “infant” for very young children. For individuals aged 13-17 years, use “adolescent”, “young person”, and “youth”. For individuals 18 years and older, use “adult”, “man”, and “woman”. When referring to individuals who are older, avoid terms such as “elderly” but rather, use terms like “older person” or “older adults”.
6. Do not contrast one group of participants with another group called “normal”. Instead write, for example, “we compared people with dementia to people without dementia”.