Many 12 Step meeting open with a reading of a portion of Chapter 5 from Alcoholics Anonymous, the original source for all 12 Steps, which was written in 1935. Back then, it was understood that 'he', 'him,' etc. were meant to include both male and female.

Since then, of course, we've come to recognize the power of language. It's generally accepted that gender-neutral terms are desirable. Here is a portion of Chapter 5 substituting gender-neutral terms.

The first time I heard Chapter 5 read this way at a meeting I was first shocked, and then delighted. I hadn't realized what an effort it had been to mentally translate the words so they truly reflected my gender. Most of the changes are to the word 'Him' which have been changed to God. While it's true the word 'God' has a masculine flavor in western cultures, it is surely closer to gender-neutral. This is how it would be:

How It Works

Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average.

There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it -- then you are ready to take certain steps.

At some of these we balked. thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.

Remember that we deal with alcohol, cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power that One is God. May you find God now!

Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. we asked God's protection and care with complete abandon. Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Many of us exclaimed, "What an order! I can't go through with it." Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventure before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives/
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
(c) That God could and would if God were sought.

Author's Bio: 

Anne Wayman is a Hazelden author, creator of the book, Powerfully Recovered! and has been clean and sober over 25 years. Her website is: http://www.powerfullyrecovered.com