Gender Neutral Pronouns, part two.

(warning: transphobic language)

They still suck.

I’ve been thinking more about why, though, besides completely failing at neutrality.

The thing is, one of the go-to ways to insult trans people (particularly women) is to refer to them with a bizarre slurring of gender nouns and pronouns. There’s “shim”, she and him combined. Shemale, she and male. 30 rock likes to remind me why I never watch the show with “Shman” (she and man). Then there’s he-she which doesn’t even bother slurring two words together.


So we’ve pretty much got a precedent of “slurring two gendered words together = transphobic slur.”

Can anyone explain to me how, while combining she and him together to form “shim” is a bigoted way to refer to trans people, combining her and him to for “hir” is a totally legit way to refer to nonbinary trans people?

Seriously? Anyone? While taking into consideration that the whole pronoun slurring thing was meant to be insulting by telling binary trans people that they’re neither male nor female, but some weird unnatural middle ground?

Really. I’m just, not keen on the fact that “the” nonbinary pronouns follow the exact same format of a type of transphobic insult that derives its insulting aspect from first saying that nonbinary people are unnatural middleground freaks, and then comparing binary trans people to us, the unnatural middleground freaks.**

We basically saw the transphobes create a word structure saying “YOU ARE AN UNNATURAL SLURRING TOGETHER OF THE REAL GENDERS IN THIS WORLD” to binary trans people, and nonbinary trans people stood up and said “HEY WAIT, YOU’VE GOT THE WRONG TRANS PEOPLE, WE’RE THE UNNATURAL SLURRING TOGETHER OF THE REAL GENDERS!”

And then I’m wondering how reclamation factored into this. Assuming that hir and shim are pretty much identical save for the specific pronouns used and the ease of pronunciation (I’m pretty sure transphobes would have used hir if it wasn’t so clunky), then they’re both anti-trans slurs. Therefor they shouldn’t be used… except in reclamation. But you have to be the affected group to reclaim a slur, and not just a similar group (which is why trans women can reclaim “tranny”, but trans men would edge towards appropriative to do so since it mostly isn’t used against them).

So either binary trans people reclaimed “hir”, and then… handed it off to nonbinary trans people? Or nonbinary trans people appropriated the act of slurring together two genders to make a word.

Or perhaps, on the day that whoever it was who first invented ze and hir got down to inventing hir, they totally forgot that the way they formed their progressive new trans-friendly pronouns was transphobic as fuck.

(Or the person who invented hir was just a feminist and wasn’t even thinking of trans people and just wanted a shorter way to say his/her and maybe didn’t even give a shit about actual trans people)

So possibly appropriative, possibly naive, possibly left-over table scraps.

Either way, hir: Making me damned uncomfortable at its existence and level of acceptance since forever.


Now spivak again.

I’ve been thinking some more on this, on why it isn’t used as much as it should be. It probably mostly is a bunch of people going “Well gee, I like spivak and think hir is shit, so I’m going to not use it.”

So I’m going to start using spivak. Not for myself, because I still like “he” best. But everyone else, you all  get to be em and emself and eir and all that from now on.


One response to “Gender Neutral Pronouns, part two.

  1. Reality Enthusiast February 12, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Count me in. It’s easier to get to Spivak from the language already in use, its pronunciation is more obvious than the other options, and as you point out it isn’t arrived at the same way trans slurs are. I’ve been searching for objections to Spivak since your first post, and I haven’t found any good ones. Of the two flavors on Wikipedia, I like LambdaMOO Spivak best, because the words aren’t capitalized.

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