In its 26th annual words of the year vote, the American Dialect Society voted for they used as a gender-neutral singular pronoun as the Word of the Year for 2015.They was recognized by the society for its emerging use as a pronoun to refer to a known person, often as a conscious choice by a person rejecting the traditional gender binary of he and she. […]
While editors have increasingly moved to accepting singular they when used in a generic fashion, voters in the Word of the Year proceedings singled out its newer usage as an identifier for someone who may identify as “non-binary” in gender terms.
“In the past year, new expressions of gender identity have generated a deal of discussion, and singular they has become a particularly significant element of that conversation,” Zimmer said. “While many novel gender-neutral pronouns have been proposed, they has the advantage of already being part of the language.”
Word of the Year is interpreted in its broader sense as “vocabulary item”—not just words but phrases. The words or phrases do not have to be brand-new, but they have to be newly prominent or notable in the past year.
Only 48 percent of Gen Zs (aged 13 to 20) identify as exclusively heterosexual, compared to 65 percent of millennials aged 21 to 34.
Fifty-six percent of 13-to-20-year-olds said that they knew someone who went by gender neutral pronouns such as “they,” “them,” or “ze,” compared to 43 percent of people aged 28 to 34 years old. Over a third of Gen Z respondents also strongly agreed that gender did not define a person as much as it used to. This figure dropped to 23 percent among millennials who were 28 and up.
Those belonging to Generation Z also rejected the gender binary while shopping—only 44 percent said they always bought clothes designed for their own gender, versus 54 percent of millennials. But they also felt strongly that public spaces should provide access to gender neutral bathrooms, with 70 percent of Gen Zs coming out in support of the move compared to 57 percent of 21–34-year-olds.
The 127-year-old organization said it was recognizing the pronoun’s emerging use ‘to refer to a known person, often as a conscious choice by a person rejecting the traditional gender binary of he and she.’
‘In the past year, new expressions of gender identity have generated a deal of discussion, and singular they has become a particularly significant element of that conversation,’ said Ben Zimmer, chair of the society’s new words committee. ‘While many novel gender-neutral pronouns have been proposed, they has the advantage of already being part of the language. They’ won 187 of the 334 votes cast. It also won most useful word, a category that included shade – to ‘insult, criticism or disrespect, shown in a subtle or clever manner.’
If you have a friend who identifies as something other than male or female (whether that means agender, gender fluid, or otherwise) - please take some time and make the effort to explain to your friends (who may not have encountered such a situation) what this persons preferences are. If their pronouns are they/them/theirs, try and explain why this is important to the friends who may not have experienced such pronouns singularly, and please for the love of God do not reject your non-binary friends pronouns just to make things easier.
If someone misgenders me in front of a friend of mine who knows that I refer to myself as male, I expect that friend to continue to use MY chosen pronouns. I am a boy who uses male pronouns (he/him/his), and as my friend, I want you to respect that regardless of whether or not I’m present. As a friend of several people who do not fall on the binary spectrum, I obviously hold myself to that same expectation. In no situation will I drop my friends pronouns in order to save time by not having to explain something to someone who may not be familiar with the concept of non-binary.
The mere thought of sacrificing someones humanity and existence by ignoring the way they identify is close minded and disrespectful, and if you believe that it is an acceptable way to act, you are sorely mistaken.
Here are some quick build responses to silly things people might say: 1: “But They/them is plural!” Consider the sentence ‘Who left their pencil on this table?’ - here we see the term THEIR being used to describe a single person in a non-gender-descriptive way! 2: “Are they a boy or a girl?” They are neither! 3: “What’s in their pants?” Determination!
Now that that is out of the way, I’ll explain why….
1. She is speaking over a community she doesn’t understand.
The first piece of evidence is in her us of the word “cisgendered.” I automatically can’t take her seriously. I do my best not to spend too much time in my academic ivory tower, and I do feel a tinge of pretension at having to call this linguistic issue out…but, in the same breath, I’m not sure it is too much to ask that a person be well-read on a subject matter that they are taking such a stark stand against. (Also, she drops a “genderqueers” in there and that is a big No No.) All that aside, the author of this post makes it painfully clear that she does not have a good understanding of nonbinary/genderqueer identities and how these terms operate for the people who use them when she repeatedly conflates masculinity/femininity and gender roles/stereotypes with the use of these identifiers. There are AFAB people who identify as both masculine and female. There are AFAB people who identify as NB/GQ and masculine. There are also plenty of AFAB people who identify as NB/GQ and feminine. Or a mix of both. Or neither. It is far too simplistic to infer that masculine women just stop being women because they are also masculine. Actually, it doesn’t even make sense. Also, there are plenty of AMAB people who are male and effeminate and then those who identify as trans feminine. NB/GQ identities have nothing to do with stereotypes surrounding masculinity and femininity. Or gender roles. When a cis woman to declares that her favorite hobby is weightlifting, she doesn’t know how to cook, and she has no desire to carry a child she is not forced out of her cisness or her relationship with womanhood. She is merely breaking some silly stereotypes constructed around what it means to be a “good” woman. However, if she wakes up one day and says to herself, “Self…I’m not convinced the gender binary is for me anymore,” well, then….WELCOME TO THE CLUB! I would also like to note that this in no way precludes this person from identifying with womanhood (**cough cough** like me **cough cough**). There are a lot of challenges facing cis women and even more facing trans women. Finding yourself more comfortable with a NB/GQ doesn’t mean you have to remove yourself from a sisterhood if you still find that it speaks for you. I also find that this line of thinking only furthers gender policing in all of its many forms….which in this case just calls to mind the cis gatekeeping of the trans community. The worst part of her argument are the essentialist terms she uses to defend her evidence. It’s toxic to rely on these ideas and only skews your own perception of people around you. She simultaneously claims that essential “woman” stereotypes don’t fit her, while suggesting that masculine women are going to be gay. STOP ASSERTING THAT THERE IS ANY RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO BE ANY ONE THING. STOP IT.
2. She is waiting for someone else to do the hard part.
“Perhaps one day the gender binary will be dismantled totally, and we’ll all stop limiting our children by bringing them up as either males or females."
Yup. Yeah. This is great. Want to know how we can get started on that? Stop writing essentialist bullshit blog posts about how you are ACTIVELY REJECTING A NONBINARY IDENTITY. If you truly believe in a future without the gender binary…you should maybe not talk to people about how important you think it it is. Maybe…just maybe….if nonbinary and genderqueer children had, I dunno…nonbinary and genderqueer people to look up to they could grow up with less depression and more self esteem. Maybe they could rip apart the binary for you. But, no…let’s spend more time focusing on the cisgender experience. Here is this wacky notion I have…cisgender kids could maybe find themselves looking up to trans people? Yeah? Yeah. They definitely could. What is this separate but equal role model nonsense?
3. She is perpetuating the myth that trans/nb/gq visibility can be reduced to a "trend.”
Trans and nonbinary identities are nothing if not ancient. Anytime I hear a person (accidentally, or otherwise) glorify the gender binary, my first thought is, “You’re a racist with a limited understanding of Western white supremacy.” Nonbinary identities are not new. Allow me to reiterate: NONBINARY IDENTITIES ARE NOT NEW. The relationship we (white people, as I am white), in 2014 living in the USA, have with gender is not indicative of what gender looked like prior to our arrival here. The binary is not what gender looked like in the nations of the people we enslaved, either. Transgender and nonbinary people have always been and will always be. Please don’t claim that you are “square” for choosing not to co opt something you have no intention of respecting. Please don’t encourage cis people to view trans identities as a trendy phase that has an end. Please don’t invalidate people’s lives.
I have to admit that I have walked this line myself. When I first started to look inward and realize the possibility that there was more to my relationship with my gender than the binary could offer me, I struggled a lot. I would ask myself, “What’s so wrong with being both masculine and female?” or “Am I turning my back on my female community?” I’m not mad at myself for asking these questions. It was a part of my process. And asking myself these questions helped me learn that genderqueer and womanhood don’t have to be mutually exclusive. As masculine as I am, I am interpreted as a cis female when I leave the house. That’s a part of my experience that I can not remove myself from. It is my reality and discussing it/fighting against it/identifying with it does not make me any less genderqueer. In fact, it gives me insight into two lived experiences at once. That duality can be confusing and stressful, but it can also be incredibly enlightening and, I feel, makes for a complex and richly lived life.
As someone who is both AFAB and uses the term “lesbian”, I see a problem with others in my communities and the way we approach NB/GQ people. Let’s stop treating AFAB people outside of the binary like traitors. AFAB people notoriously take up too much space within trans/NB/GQ spaces. Our visibility is more accessible and our blatant discrimination less vicious than our trans sisters. I urge us within the community and cis women alike to appreciate that privilege (and to also push back against it, but that’s another blog post). I say appreciate, because with the safety afforded us we should not be shaming the people in our community against coming out. Ever notice that these sentiments are only ever coming from cis women? Cis men don’t typically feel betrayed by trans women or trans feminine people. And they aren’t known for being the first people to rally around them and offer them support. Perhaps some of the energy being spent on shaming or discouraging or invalidating AFAB nonbinary/genderqueer people could be redirected into support and visibility and safe places for trans women and trans feminine people.
If a nonbinary/genderqueer identity is not for you…that’s cool. No one wants you to use words for yourself that you don’t find helpful. What this boils down to is: there is no good to be done by going out of your way to defend your cis-ness. I suggest you recognize the privilege you have by not having to live with the added pressure that can come with a non-cis identity. I especially suggest that you, in turn, offer more support to the trans/nonbinary/genderqueer people around you.
You know, I KNOW we aren’t the only mixed-origin, IDGAF-what-our-origins-are, idk-what-are-origins-are, or otherwise not perfectly box-fitting system out there, regardless of diagnosis (this means DID/OSDD-1 diagnosed systems are still free to join. Diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean you fit into or are comfortable in either of the two “main” groups.)
So we’ve got the #actuallytraumagenic tag, there’s kiiind of an #actuallyendogenic tag.
And I propose a third, for those of us who are sick of/who fit into neither of those groups.
(quoigenic literally meaning “what-origin” or “what-genic” and encompassing anyone who refuses to label themselves, doesn’t know what ‘caused’ their system, is some sort of mixed origin system, or who otherwise doesn’t care about what caused their plurality)
How do others feel about this? Bc I think it’d be a good place for anyone who otherwise doesn’t fit or rejects these, essentially, binary and very dividing labels.
non-binary =/= identities between male and female (though some nb ppl id that way). non-binary is any identity other than male and female, and these identities frequently have nothing at all to do with any concept of male or female. i, as a femme afab non-binary person, am no more female than a binary trans man.
go beyond recognizing non-binary identities, reject the binary as your default conception of gender. stop thinking of non-binary ppl in shades of male and female unless that is how they personally identify.
A proposal on how to end the Truscum vs. Tucute arguement
Simple, we just split terms. Here’s what I propose:
Gender Non-Conforming (or GNC for short) or a similar term. This term would mean, ‘I do not agree with the gender and connotations of the gender I was assigned at birth’. This would be the umbrella term people seem to want to preserve with whichever identities this community would choose to uphold underneath it but not including the other proposed term. These individuals transitions paths can include seeking medical intervention but there is no medical connotation associated with it.
Transgender/Transsexual is the term I would propose for those who experience dysphoria. The reason I think these terms are most suited for this definition is the historical context of medical intervention with these words. These individuals again can have variable transition paths but acknowledge the positive influences mental health counseling and medical intervention have on dysphoria.
So with these definitions an individual can be considered part of one or both groups. For example: an individual rejects binary gender and all of its connotations. They use neutral pronouns such as they/them/theirs. They also experience dysphoria and are seeking mental/medical intervention in order to deal with this dysphoria. This person would be considered a Gender Non-Conforming and Transgender individual.
Edit: Defining terms (mtf, ftm, etc) would still be used in both larger terminologies for explaining an individual’s specific transition path. However in order to make spaces more friendly to both groups I would suggest tagging things like this 'FTM GNC’ or 'FTM Transgender’ as an example.
Anyways, just a proposal. Hoping that all correspondences related to this post are calm and thoughtful.
shout out to trans people who don’t want to be revolutionaries. shout out to trans people who just want to live their lives normally as the people they are. shout out to dysphoric trans people who are being told by cis and trans people alike that they just need to learn to love their bodies and reject cisness, shout out to binary trans boys who get told to reject the idea of being wholly male despite that being what they are, shout out to nonbinary people who wish there were a way for their identity to just be quietly accepted. shout out to trans girls who have to pretend they’re men just to enter spaces they can feel a little safer. shout out to everyone who can’t pass yet and shout out to everyone who keeps their birth sex a secret and likes things that way.
here’s to all the trans people like myself who would much rather just be called ‘people’, thank you very much. it’s okay if you don’t want to join some sort of cause or fight, you’re not obligated to because of how you were born and you should never let anyone make you feel bad for prioritising your own safety and stability
It is the art, music, aesthetics, politics, and social practices of the LBGT community and those who identify as Queer. It is a way of viewing and twisting the icons and traditions of heternormative society to fit the LGBT experience. A rejection of binaries of all kinds.