a thoughtful web.
Share good ideas and conversation.   Login or Take a Tour!
comment by insomniasexx
insomniasexx  ·  2007 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: From A Symbol Of Athletic Power To A Symbol Of Gender Transition

I'm really glad you chimed in on this. Thank you for the clarification in regards to Bruce Jenner as well as the more universal rules and...

    While this seems strange at first, you have to realize that this person has always been their chosen gender, even though they weren't necessarily able to show it.

... when you put it this way makes sense. I think it's the peculiarities of the situation (we always saw Jenner in such a masculine / athletic role etc) that make it feel strange and make it seem like we are rewriting history. This is especially apparent in instances where Jenner is not the direct focus of the sentence / moment:

    The American media in 1976 were infatuated with Jenner, as much for her looks as for her athletic prowess. Time magazine called her “beautifully sculpted” and described “the waning light shining on his flapping chestnut hair” as she crossed the finish line.

In my mind, the American media in 1976 were infatuated with, and commenting on, a male, even if she identified as female. It may be nuanced, but there is a difference between the media describing a male athlete like that vs a female one. I'm not saying we handle these cases in one way or another, just...yeah.

I think another reason I may find myself grappling is because Jenner is a public figure that is removed from me and my personal interactions, not a close friend who I actually interact with. I do find that I refer to my IRL friends as "he" or "she", even when referencing them in the past. ie: "It was so funny when she did that" even if, at the time of the event, they presented as male.





coffeesp00ns  ·  2007 days ago  ·  link  ·  

See, you could rewrite that whole sentence and make it more clear and more inclusive:

    The American media in 1976 were infatuated with Jenner, as much for their looks as for their athletic prowess. Time magazine called Jenner “beautifully sculpted” and described “the waning light shining on [their] flapping chestnut hair” as they crossed the finish line.

no mixed pronouns, much clearer to read. you could even modify

    “the waning light shining on [their] flapping chestnut hair” as they crossed the finish line.

to

    “the waning light shining on [their] flapping chestnut hair” crossing the finish line.

without too much trouble. Using the gender neutral pronouns also allows you to talk about Jenner without misgendering, but also without the sudden mental hurdle (for some people), and current permissive anomaly of referring to them with female pronouns.

steve  ·  2007 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I think we need a new word. I'm no English major - but "their" seems tied to "they" in my head, and feels plural. It might prove just as confusing as calling her "him" in the past.

I dunno.

coffeesp00ns  ·  2007 days ago  ·  link  ·  

There's been a few attempts. I see the occasional "Zie/Zir" or "Xe/Xim", both with a "zed" sound at the beginning.

But I think you need to rethink how you use "They" every day.

Say you are talking to a co-worker, or a colleague, and they are talking about a problem with their boss. you might say, "Why not talk to your HR rep and see what they say about it." (or you might not, depending on your opinion of HR.

We all subconsciously use singular they every day of our life, all the time.

steve  ·  2006 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    "Why not talk to your HR rep and see what they say about it."

I actually wouldn't say that. If I knew the gender of the person I would say it. If I didn't I would absolutely say "he/she".

    We all subconsciously use singular they every day of our life, all the time.

We may... but I honestly try not to. I'm not super sure about my grammar, but I still try to speak clearly and mixed pronouns bug me.

But who knows? Our language is evolving - and that may be the next evolution. And why not - we've got to be able to figure out a way to have these discussions. As lines of gender continue to blur in society, so will our rules of grammar that are based on gender. I wonder how other, more gender specific languages will adapt? Spanish ends words with "A" or "O" depending on the object. German is full of verb conjugations based on he or she. Exciting times!

coffeesp00ns  ·  2005 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I know in some nordic languages they have implemented the "Hen" pronoun, which is the Neutral. Herr being man, Het being woman, Hen being gender neutral.

Perhaps other countries will do the same, or perhaps gender neutral people in those countries will be referred to with the plural pronouns, such as "Ils" in French.