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Why do people use gender neutral pronouns in English and how can we do this correctly?
The transgender, genderqueer and gender nonconforming community has broadened the way we see gender. Awareness of gender diversity has grown, however there are still some technical areas that challenge some people, the biggest area of confusion is the use of gender-neutral pronouns. So why do people use gender neutral pronouns in English and how can we do this correctly?
Nick Adams of GLAAD’s transgender media program says the following: “Some people have a gender identity that is non-binary, and conventional pronouns have the effect of assigning them a binary identity,” There is nothing wrong with gendered pronouns; the problem is that the pronouns “he” and “she” carry a certain set of expectations about how someone should express their identity and relate to the world.
Gender Neutral Pronouns in English:
The most common gender-neutral pronoun used by genderqueer and gender nonconforming people is “they/them/their,” But there are many options for gender-neutral pronouns including “ze/hir/hirs” (pronounced “zee/here/heres”) or “ey/em/eir” (pronounced “ay/em/airs”). You can see a comprehensive list of gender-neutral pronouns here.
Now the question we want to address is whether or not other countries are as woke as their American counterparts. Pronouns in Romantic language are almost gendered. Going into writing this post we were unsure if other languages had as clear of an understanding and response to the topic. It is a very exciting thing to see English changing and adapting before our eyes from a linguistics standpoint. Do other countries do the same? If not, what is the best option?
Gender Neutral Pronouns in Spanish:
Many countries outside of the United States are yet to adopt any kind of gender-neutral pronouns but that may change. It seams as though some Spanish speaking countries are starting to use the letter “x” as a substitute for “o” and “a.” In Spanish most gendered words end in “o” or “a” to determine the masculine or feminine identity. Although this is a positive change, for many Spanish speakers it is challenging to pronounce the “x” within words unless you speak English. This is why the addition of “e” has been added to make it easier for individuals who only speak Spanish.
EXAMPLES OF GENDER NEUTRAL PRONOUNS IN SPANISH:
- They / Them / Ellos / Ellas can be = Elle / Ellas
- Abuel@ or Abuele = Grandfather/Grandmother/Grandparent
- Espos@, Espose = Husband, Wife, Spouse
- Herman@, Hermane = Brother / Sister / Sibling
- Niñ@, niñe = Boy / Girl / Child
- Novi@, Novie = Boyfriend, Girlfriend/ Datemate
- Non-Binary can be: Genero no binario / No binarie
- Friends / Friend / Amigo / Amiga can be = Amigue*, Amix, Ami, Amigis
INFOGRAPHIC ABOUT GENDER NEUTRALITY IN SPANISH
Gender Neutral Pronoun use in other Romantic Languages:
At Strommen, we feel this can be a good solution for an American looking to preserve one’s awareness and show understanding and acceptance both in the workplace or in public. We are curious to further research the topic and see if other language are changing similarly.
This is a developing post as we do more research on the following countries and language pairs. Please reach out if you have any info on:
- Italy: The use of gender neutral pronouns in Italian
- Our research indicates that Italians do not currently use neutral pronouns.
- Spain: The use of gender neutral pronouns in Spanish
- Our research indicates that recently, the letter “x” , “e.”
- France: The use of gender neutral pronouns in French (POST HERE)
- Germany: The use of gender neutral pronouns in German
- Canada: The use of gender neutral pronouns in French Canadian
- Brazil: The use of gender neutral pronouns in brazilian Portuguese
- Switzerland: The use of gender neutral pronouns in Swiss German