Norm-Critical Writing


Norm-critical and LGBTQ inclusive writing is not hard and here are some tips.

The norm-critical perspective is important so that all readers you want to reach feel included and addressed. In order for them to do that, it is important that you, the writer, have reflected on your own values ​​and what expectations you have of the reader but refrain from assuming the reader is a certain way.

Stay away from expressions like “normal” because it can be perceived as other people are abnormal. Rather write “ordinary” or explain in another way that is easy to understand without seeming pointed. Don’t value differences or describe something as a problem if it isn’t.

Avoid talking about gender or describing, categorizing people by gender unless it is relevant. Also, do not start from differences between genders or how common or unusual something is in different groups, or differences in conditions in different groups, if it is not important for what you want to convey to the individual reader.

Be aware of different norms that can be read between the lines. Don’t presume that the reader:

  • is heterosexual
  • has a partner
  • is a cis-person
  • has a certain color
  • is born or raised in Sweden
  • knows about your city or part of town
  • is of a certain faith
  • wants to have or can have children
  • has two parents or parents with different genders
  • lives with or has grown up with their biological parents
  • doesn’t have a physical or psychiatric disability
  • has a certain financial situation or lifestyle


Ze is an inclusive pronoun for people who don’t want to identify via gender and is also a practical pronoun when gender is irrelevant or unknown.

If you want to avoid writing she, he or ze, addressing the reader as “you” can be a good alternative. It also gives the text a personal and direct tone. In some cases, however, it can be perceived as too personal if the text is about a sensitive subject. Then “one” can be an alternative even if it can be perceived as passive and distancing.

LGBTQ in text

There are a few things to think about when you write about LGBTQ. How is LGBTQ described? Does it create a clear “us and them”? What consequences can that have? The same goes for how homosexuals, bisexuals, trans people and queers are described. Make a comparison of how the text would be perceived if you changed L, G, B, T or Q to heterosexual or another category of people.

Inclusion in images

Some general things to think about regarding pictures are:

  • Are images of same-sex couples being used?
  • Are there images of people who break the cis-norm?
  • Are the images respectful and have the people portrayed approved the usage of the pictures?