A Matter of Respect: Gender-Neutral Pronoun Guide and Discussion

There is a conversation that was started by a recently published game “Dawnfall” by @RoAnnaSylver … while this topic is related to others already began, I am opening this specific thread to address a key concept that is brought up by the specific conversation started by this game’s discussion.

I’m opening this thread by establishing some basics:

Gender Neutral / Gender Inclusive Pronouns

A gender neutral or gender inclusive pronoun is a pronoun which does not associate a gender with the individual who is being discussed.

Some languages, such as English, do not have a gender neutral or third gender pronoun available, and this has been criticized, since in many instances, writers, speakers, etc. use “he/his” when referring to a generic individual in the third person. Also, the dichotomy of “he and she” in English does not leave room for other gender identities, which is a source of frustration to the transgender and gender queer communities.

People who are limited by languages which do not include gender neutral pronouns have attempted to create them, in the interest of greater equality.

HE/SHE HIM/HER HIS/HER HIS/HERS HIMSELF/HERSELF
zie zim zir zis zieself
sie sie hir hirs hirself
ey em eir eirs eirself
ve ver vis vers verself
tey ter tem ters terself
e em eir eirs emself
  • he/she is nominative, his/her possessive and/or oblique, himself/herself reflexive

The key to better understanding is this key phrase:

Pronouns and Parts of Speech in English, with examples:

  • they/she/he: Nominative, the subject of a sentence or phrase (ex: ‘She went to town’).

  • them/her/him: Oblique, receives action from the verb (ex: ‘The booth worker gave them a ticket’).

  • their/her/his: Possessive determiner, used adjectivally for denoting ownership of a noun (ex: ‘Those are his books’).

  • theirs/hers/his: Possessive, denoting ownership, generally separated from the noun which is owned (ex: ‘The skates are hers’).

  • themself*/herself/himself: Reflexive, denoting an action done toward oneself. (ex: ‘They made themself a cup of tea’) or sometimes for emphasis (ex: ‘Yes, she built the shelving herself’).

  • Thank you @Fiogan :two_hearts:

In the English language, there is no one acceptable standard. Here is a huge article going into the details if you wish to read it of the singular they:

Regardless, your posts really boil down to a matter of respect of people … you have a choice here to make:

Asking whether someone should be referred to as “he,” “she,” “they,” or another pronoun may feel awkward at first, but is one of the simplest and most important ways to show respect for someone’s identity.

As to why you should ask:

LGBT Resource Site

@HannahPS’ Sample Script To Use:

Hannah has gracefully made gender and pronoun scripting available that any of us can incorporate into our work here:

You can find a playable version here and view the full txt file here.

Tldr and Conclusion:

This all boils down to respect.

You and I don’t always need to understand “why” but to be a part of this community, you must respect others.

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I hope I don’t sound rude but what the heck are those pronouns? Sorry but I have no idea in what instance pronouns like xie or zie would be used, I know this is a sci fi and some aliens use them and the MC is also an alien but shouldn’t you have explained what those pronouns mean? I know that they/them are for intersex people since they are neither male nor female but xie or zie? I literally have no idea, btw I hope i don’t look transphobic (althought I really doubt that any trans people would use those pronouns)

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People in real life do indeed use xie, zie etc if it feels right for them. They may be trans and/or non binary, or simply find that gender-neutral pronouns work for them. It’s worth having a look at LGBT+ authored info about neopronouns or Spivak pronouns to learn more.

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But why? Isn’t they/them already a non-binary pronoun? I don’t see the point of so many pronouns, at this point they seem redundant especially since they don’t seem to mean a certain thing, I get why an author would use them for aliens after explaining that they have a very different anatomy and/or society but irl I just don’t see the their point, I mean the author should have at least explain what they mean because I literally have no idea who would use xie as a pronoun

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I forgot, I HAVE seen someone using IT and ITS as pronouns on a dating app but xie or zie ? Never in my life, that’s why I’m so confused

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Based on your comments you’re confused or uninformed about a lot of things regarding sex and gender. But since you are asking the question, I’ll answer it.

Intersex is an umbrella term for people who have a variety of different sex characteristics–both genotypically and phenotypically. Biologically, sex is assigned at birth based on factors like unambiguous genitals, bloodwork, etc. Intersex people can have chromosomes other than typical male XY or female XX genotype, or their genitalia may be ambiguous (phenotypically different from what the medical establishment and society determines as “normal”) or they may have hormone disorders, or a combination of all of the above.

Many (most?) intersex people still identify themselves within the gender binary. Women with androgen insensitivity syndrome are intersex, and they usually identify as a woman, and do not use “they/them” pronouns, for example. So I’m not really sure where you’re getting your ideas about intersex people.

Gender and sex are not tied together–otherwise being trans wouldn’t be a thing. And it is.

Being nonbinary is not the same thing as being intersex. Nonbinary is a form of gender.

Nonbinary people do not all exclusively use they/them pronouns. You may literally have no idea who would use xie as a pronoun, but I assure you that only means you have a limited circle of friends. Take a look at the wiki page for the topic Third-person pronoun. There’s a long list of proposed (and used!) gender neutral pronouns, suitable for anyone to use who doesn’t want to use he, she, or they. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third-person_pronoun#It_and_one_as_gender-neutral_pronouns

I’m very sorry you found this pronoun so confusing. However, it’s a thing! You learn something new every day :slight_smile:

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People of all sorts of genders have existed all through history. Spivak pronouns were first recorded in the 19th century. It’s fine not to understand something, but everyone is different and it is rude to dismiss gender identities by calling it weird or saying it seems like a trend.

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I didn’t say there weren’t intersex people who use they/them. It’s fine if they think it’s offensive to identify as intersex, though some intersex people do. In either case, I was not using the term to ascribe an identity to anyone.

And sure, gender neutral and singular they pronouns may not be part of your language. I’ve met people who use pronouns other than he, she, and they. My point is that even a cisgender person like myself can use whatever pronouns I want and it doesn’t have anything to do with my sex or even my gender.

You’re being very forceful about learning something that isn’t familiar to you or accepting that things are different than in your experience.

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I didn’t say they weren’t used in literature, maybe weird wasn’t the best word, more like unusual? Sorey english isn’t my first language

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Of course there are intersex individuals who use they/them pronouns. That’s because biological sex and gender aren’t the same. In that vein, they/them is seen as a gender neutral. Zie/xie is more of a gender absent.

I promise, your country has people who identify outside of the gender non-binary. They may not be openly identifying with it, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

Lastly, it doesn’t matter if you don’t fully understand the different gender pronouns. Not really. I’m not saying this to be harsh, but they’re there for the people who use them. And if you don’t use them, that’s okay. You don’t need to use a certain pronoun to accept that other people use and are comfortable with them.

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Wait wait wait, you lost me, I know that pronouns have nothing to do with sex but since when don’t they have anything to do with gender?

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Since always? Again, I hesitate to bring this up because I think your reaction will be “I’ve never met such a person” but there are many nonbinary people who use he or she and not they pronouns. And as I just said, if I want to use ze, or thon as my personal pronoun, there is nothing about that that needs to reflect my gender identity outwardly.

But frankly, we need to end this discussion.

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I’m assuming you mean the xie/zie? For some people, they don’t identify with any particular gender identity. Gender — for whatever purpose, depending on the person — as it is, doesn’t work for them. Xie/zie pronouns are a way of letting people know, ‘hey, I’m agendered.’

As for they/them. That’s more of a, ‘hey, I’m gender neutral.’

Which may sound confusing! I get it. Here’s my (really poor) attempt at an analogy:

There are three flavors of soda. Pepsi, Coke, and Orange. One person gets the orange, another gets the Coke, and the third person gets the Pepsi.
The Coke and the Pepsi are the he/him, she/her pronouns you’re likely most familiar with. The Orange is the they/them that’s slightly less common, but still relatively familiar.
The person who doesn’t like sodas, for whatever reason, abstains from getting a soda entirely. Instead, they get a coffee (xie/zie pronouns), so people will stop offering them a soda when they don’t want one.

(I tried my best, but this is all rather clumsy, and I obviously left out other pronouns and gender identies. For simplicity, I wanted to stick with the identities that have already been mentioned in the original thread. That in mind, if anyone sees anything that want to add on or correct PLEASE do so. I am trans, and while that may translate to slightly more empathy, it doesn’t mean I’m any less clumsy/accidentally harmful than anyone else still learning the nuances of other gender identies.)

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Just a suggestion: I think adding “Gender-Neutral Pronoun Explanation/Guide and Discussion” to the title would help clarify the intent of this thread. When I first opened it, I was confused and thought that Eiwynn accidentally published a private message as a public topic. :sweat_smile:

Regardless, this is a super helpful topic! Hopefully, it ends up helping educate people about gender-neutral pronouns and how to use them.

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Sorry for the confusion.

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Well now everyone is cool explaining things… when I dared to say I couldn’t understand things I been called overpriviledged white cis male :joy: It’s cool it’s cool… good luck with the discussion, what I did understand is that sometimes things are too complicated to be taught with words, you need some life experiences and some sensibility that comes from whithin yourself.
That being said I think that in order to respect and celebrate the beauty of diversity it’s not essential to undersand absolutely everything.

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Because you said, “I don’t understand why people keep making up genders and pronouns.” By saying that, you are – whether you intended to or not – invalidating gender identities that exist outside the binary by saying that they are made up. That is incredibly disrespectful, and people will get offended when their identity is invalidated.

EDIT: To add further clarity, if you said, “I don’t know what these gender identities are. Could someone explain them to me?” you would have sounded like someone genuinely interested in learning about gender identities you don’t know about.

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