Author Topic: Let's come up with some gender neutral terms  (Read 32039 times)

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Offline Sevan

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Let's come up with some gender neutral terms
« on: October 27, 2011, 05:34:52 pm »
Words trip us up. Language has holes. Can we fill them in? Such as:

Man          Woman       Androgyn(e)
He            She             Ze/Per
His            Her(s)         Hir(s)/Pers (hir pronounced "hear")
Boy           Girl              Nute
Sir             Ma'am         Mir (?)
Mr.            Mrs.             Mz./Mx (pronounced "mix") (?)
Husband   Wife            Hersband (suppose this only works for our FtA's, but perhaps not the other direction? Or maybe it does work for both)
Boyfriend  Girlfriend     Spouse/Mate/Partner/Lovie/Ladydudefriend/Nutefriend
Father       Mother       ??
Dad           Mom           Mada(?)
Brother     Sister          Broster(?)
Uncle        Aunt            ??
Nephew    Niece          ??
Grandpa   Grandma     ??

and I'm sure there are PLENTY more I'm not listing...but I think it's these words that hinder people from using gender neutral expressions. While we've accepted ze/hir in this house (and I know some here on this board don't like those even...but they work for me.) but even with those in place...there's still so much missing. We've created "hersband" and "mir" out of necessity in my peer group and I like them (personally) but I'm REALLY stuck on something in place of Uncle/Aunt and my neice and nephew have resorted to just calling me by name when everyone else in their life has a proper title. I have to admit...that stings some. I don't know why they won't just call me "aunt Sevan" but...I get that in their mind, due to my gender..."aunt" doesn't fit, and they're calling me by name out of respect and recognition of my gender...but I have to lose familiar respect? Sucks...honestly. I'd love (VERY very much) if we could find, or create words to flesh out the language.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2011, 11:01:07 pm by Sevan »
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Offline cynthialee

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Re: Words....fill in the blank
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2011, 06:33:36 pm »
I agree!

:)
So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.
If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.
If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.
Sun Tsu 'The art of War'

mimpi

Re: Words....fill in the blank
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2011, 06:40:25 am »
To be perfectly honest it doesn't really bother me that much, my second language is Italian and I don't think twice about why a city is feminine or a train is masculine or indeed using the polite "You/Lei" (she) when talking to a man. It won't change even if we wish it to and there really isn't much we can do about it. Frankly I'm not sure I could manage to speak as a female in Italian as the decades of speaking as a male are so ingrained in my brain it would be really hard not to slip up.

Offline Sevan

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Re: Words....fill in the blank
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2011, 11:21:32 am »
I'm glad to hear that language isn't a problem for you but won't you play along and help those of us who are  bothered by language? I know that you aren't alone in your view and often pronouns aren't an issue for me...I frequently say that I didn't transition for pronouns...I transitioned to be my core self. However if we really think about it...we're not the ones using pronouns anyway. It's those around us that use them. Those around me have become increasingly uncomfortable using female pronouns for me. It's them that want something more suiting. They has asked me for better language and in many ways...I've got nothing for them. I've got language with holes. Like my niece and nephew who know me as androgyn, have seen me in full male mode and full female mode and they feel uncomfortable calling me "aunt" anymore....we just don't have word to turn to.
I'm also the spouse to the fabulous Mrs. Cynthialee.



mimpi

Re: Words....fill in the blank
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2011, 11:48:43 am »
My apologies, Sevan, it was not my intention to offend you :)

The point I was attempting to make is that language will not change whatever we may wish. Also I tried to make the point that in Italian one speaks differently as a man or as a woman when it comes to the past participle used with the verb 'essere/to be' as in 'sono stato/sono stata' etc. So not only is it others that refer to one as he or she etc but also one has to change how one refers to one's own actions.

Offline Sevan

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Re: Words....fill in the blank
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2011, 12:25:53 pm »
You've not offended me. We're having a conversation! I'm not mad in the slightest...just posing that it's not even for us...these words. It's about us, but not really for us to use. I understand you're coming from an Italian perspective. I remember a thread not so long ago started by you, asking what feels like a similar question.
I know we likely can't change the whole world but I'm not trying to. I'm trying to create words that *i* can use and give to those around me that wish to address me in a gender neutral way.
When I started transitioning, and started using testosterone I came up with the expression FtA. It felt right. I used that term here on Susan's and I now see people I've never talked to...using that term. I'll be humble and say perhaps they went through the same thougt process as me. Perhaps they never saw me use it..but perhaps they did. You never know how words might spread. Slang in America works this way. Someone comes up with a word and it spreads like wild fire.
Though again, I'm not so much trying to spread anything...but mearly looking for words for *me* to use with those around me. I've come up with some words, but many that i've listed here stump me.
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Offline cynthialee

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Re: Words....fill in the blank
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2011, 01:02:31 pm »
English does not rely on as much gendering as the Latin languages.
Many languages do have differant words for each gender.
Like when I worked in a Thai restaurant, when ever the cook had a meal ready for one of the waitresses he would say a couple words, then when he would put up an order for the waiter he would say the same words just a little diferant at the end.
After a few days I had to ask why he said "order up" in Thai diferant ways for the man and woman.
He just stared at me blank for a few seconds then one of the younger ones that was more westernized explained to me that there are a ton of words in Thai that men say one way and women say anouther and that the words you speak to females are diferant slightly than what you say to a male.
I didn't understand the why of it and neither did the young Thai dude that was explaining it to me. It just is that way with Thai folks.

But I digress:

We rearely use pronouns for ourselves. Talking about oneself in the third person is just a tad odd so we tend to avoid that.
Pronouns are for others.

When Sevan transitioned I was a little sad that there is no special word for an androgyn spouse.
If my spouse is male, then I have a husband.
If my spouse is female, then I have a wife.
But there was no term for an androgyn spouse. Then I encountered a word coined by a lesbian couple. Hersband.
It is perfect! Sevan is my hersband. That so very acuratly speaks to our relationship that I had to adopt it.
Now a number of people in our life have taken to refering to Sevan as my Hersband also. NEAT! The language is changeing in our circle of friends.

Keep in mind English is a hodgepodge of diferant languages that is constantly evolving. English lends itself well to the incorperation of new words and language uses. It is not very ridged. It might seem so on some levels but it actually changes substantialy over time.

Anyways...
We need words that lend themselves to easily being understood and picked up by others. The term Hersband is a good example of a word that is very simple to understand just from looking at the root words it derives from.
HER(S) female
hus/BAND male spouse

We have a female/male spouse from this word. That sounds pretty androgynous to me. And it is a fun sounding word. Words with a fun sound or a twist on other words are well received by English speakers. So this word works well on a few levels for an English speaker.

The next androgyn word we really need is one to fill the place that Aunt and Uncle take up for female and male when speaking of the siblings of ones parents ann thier spouses.

Something that fills the void in boyfriend/girlfriend would be nice. Androgynefriend just doesn't have the right sound or feel. But that stems from the lack of a word that follows Boy, Girl. (blank for androgyne)

Anyways.

This is really just me keeping the topic at the top, cause it is important to our family.

:)
So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.
If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.
If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.
Sun Tsu 'The art of War'

ativan

Re: Words....fill in the blank
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2011, 01:30:12 pm »
With this as a universal language problem, Englishly speaking, I for one think it is of enough importance for it to be pinned to the top.
How many times have I seen it come up? especially newcomers. You can almost feel the disapointment that the language used here is binary.
Go ahead and make a mental list of words that rightfully are androgyn and not some bastardization of binary language as it is used here.
Catch phrases and words are always being made up that reflect binary useage.
You would think at least some of these problem areas would have the words we seek.
Could we borrow from other languages?

I think this topic needs to be pinned.

Thank you in advance!,
Ativan
« Last Edit: October 28, 2011, 03:21:32 pm by @ivan »

Offline Vincent E.S.

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Re: Words....fill in the blank
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2011, 03:09:14 pm »
I was actually going to post a thread over here asking about how you folk do things like this, but it's already been made.

Well, if we continue the combination of the male/female, what about Auntle?
I do agree that something needs to be done and that some words are in desperate need of being invented. Perhaps as knowledge and information get out about how A is just as valid a gender as B or G, androgyn specific words (rather than combinations of male/female terms)will be invented and become commonplace.

Offline Sevan

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Re: Words....fill in the blank
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2011, 07:12:38 pm »
With this as a universal language problem, Englishly speaking, I for one think it is of enough importance for it to be pinned to the top.
How many times have I seen it come up? especially newcomers. You can almost feel the disapointment that the language used here is binary.
Go ahead and make a mental list of words that rightfully are androgyn and not some bastardization of binary language as it is used here.
Catch phrases and words are always being made up that reflect binary useage.
You would think at least some of these problem areas would have the words we seek.
Could we borrow from other languages?

I think this topic needs to be pinned.

Thank you in advance!,
Ativan

I would love for this to be pinned. I agree, this does come up alot. Many new comers start with language, and many of our allies come here with language questions because they want to be supportive of their non-binary friends.

At this time in the process of getting the word out about non-binary/androgyn/third gender folks I think we still need to utilize binary words because that's going to be easily recognizable. When I tell people the pronouns I like: ze/hir they often wrinkle their nose...it's very different and not easily accessible. They will often reject them because it doesn't work easily into their language. I even know another 3rd gender person IRL who rejects *my* preferred pronouns! I mean...come on.

However, just like Cynthia has said...when words are fun or feel silly or easy...they readily accept them and use them. Hersband is one of those that people really like and easily accept. Mir is one that people think of themselves when I bring up the topic of "hmm I need to find a word that's the same as sir/ma'am" and I've had two people say "Mir!" before I can even get to the part where I say "I thought of Mir" so that seems like the quickest and easiest to people's mind.

I think with a binary world (and come on...it is.) trying to create completely new, non binary words that we can't point to their (binary)root they're more likely to be rejected.

If I said "Meep" is the new gender neutral aunt/uncle...well, it's a fun word, rolls right off the tongue but...what's the root? What's the connection? There is none! I just made it up. I think because of that...it doesn't stick so well....I don't know. That's my thought. I want there to be reason because people WILL ask "What does it mean? What's it's root? How did you come up with that?" and if my response is "Well...it came to my very silly mind and I said it and thus...it is." I don't think people will see the validity in that. And since I ultimately want *them* to use these words...not really me...I want to cater to them and their reasoning. 

I don't know...this stuff is hard. But all the more reason to discuss it and bring in as many minds as we can. :)

Just wanted to say...Meep came to mind because it's something we made up as the name of our cat. She's a pretty white persian kitty...her name is Meep.
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Offline Sevan

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Re: Words....fill in the blank
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2011, 07:17:19 pm »
Also...I think taking from other languages might suit us quite well. That's a totally American thing. Take from other languages. I've heard of other cultures that accept 3, 4, 5 and upwards of 7 genders. They MUST have language for these genders! I don't know what they are though. I can't find them. I'd thought that just finding their words and stealing them and making them mine would be the easiest but it turns out...not so much. Though my google-fu isn't as strong as perhaps other people's google-fu.
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ativan

Re: Words....fill in the blank
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2011, 07:38:05 pm »
I think you should change the title to reflect more of what has been the first few revelations of how this might work.
Aunt and Uncle are tuffy's, does anyone have a familiar background in language differences?
Such as a and o the end of the word differentiates whether it is male or female?
And other cultures that already have 3rd gender incorporated into their language is a very good idea.

If we can find the androgynous solution (I really like it) and even get a sub forum, hey a few well chosen words and maybe...

Ativan (the watched)

Offline Kinkly

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Re: Words....fill in the blank
« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2011, 08:02:52 pm »
In the real word gender neutral terms work well (at least for me)  I agree that we need non binary terms for ourselves but getting acceptance of that from outside the non binary community is going to take some time
Male         Female    Person
Man          Woman   Adult
Boy           Girl         Child
Husband   Wife        Spouse
Brother     Sister      Sibling
Father      Mother    Parent
son          Daughter  Child
Sir            Ma'am     ??
Mr.           Mrs.         ??
Boyfriend Girlfriend  Lover
Uncle       Aunt        ??*
Nephew    Niece       ??*
I really wish I knew a gender Neutral for *

Most of the time People don't sir or ma'am me in shops most of the time it is May I help you,  I have heard that the sir/ ma'am bit is more common in the USA then here in Australia
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Offline Sevan

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Re: Let's come up with some gender neutral terms
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2011, 08:32:16 pm »
Ok. Title is changed  ;D

I'll happily edit the first post with any terms we come up with and agree to, or any new terms we need to come up with. So that way term requests and terms that have been come up with wont get lost in the middle. :)

I think focus on "boy/girl" would suit us well because that'd take care of two things. "Boy/Girl" and "Boyfriend/Girlfriend" which I think are really useful in general for more than...just me. lol! :)

Hmmmm it doesn't follow the "o" ending for male and "a" ending for female...so I'm not really sure where to go for androgyn version....

Kinkly we use those as well but the thing of most of your suggestions...is that they are suitable for all persons. They're not gender specific which might suit some, or even most...but I want something that's specific for me. Men are men, Woman are women...I'd like some recognition as well since...it seems so important to so many. (still haven't figured out why, but I can work with it...if I have the language.)
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Offline cynthialee

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Re: Let's come up with some gender neutral terms
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2011, 08:37:53 pm »
but the gender nutral ones are kinda dry and do not really speak to androgyn. Those are the generic words ussed when gender is not a known factor.
With androgyn the gender is known....androgyn.
So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.
If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.
If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.
Sun Tsu 'The art of War'

Offline Padma

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Re: Let's come up with some gender neutral terms
« Reply #15 on: October 28, 2011, 09:10:06 pm »
I've made this topic a "stickie" as requested :).

This subject interests me a lot. In some languages (swedish is one example), aunt and uncle are even divided into whether they're the mother's or father's brother/sister.

I remember reading Woman On The Edge Of Time back in my 20's and being struck by the idea of people in the (carefully imperfect) utopia Marge Piercy was writing about using a gender-neutral set of pronouns based around "person" - so instead of saying "he/she is over there" they'd say "person is over there", and instead of saying "that's his/her house" they'd say "that's per house". I like it because it mostly sidesteps the "trying to combine the two existing pronouns" trap - I say mostly, because "per" sounds like "her", but then Marge is an ardent feminist :).
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Offline Sevan

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Re: Let's come up with some gender neutral terms
« Reply #16 on: October 28, 2011, 09:28:08 pm »
Firstly, thank you for the pin!  ;D

Secondly...a "person/per" set is most interesting. Hmmm.

Thirdly, I altered the origional thread to include a few more for us to ponder. ya know...cuz we didn't have enough already! Though..some may prove easier than others. Such as Dad, Mom, Mada! I like it myself. And actually have my god son using something similar. Prior to my coming out, and thinking about all this variety of stuff; he called me Sama. A combination of my name and mama. :)
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Offline Padma

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Re: Let's come up with some gender neutral terms
« Reply #17 on: October 28, 2011, 09:39:53 pm »
I was supposed to be godfather to my dear friend's son - but then I wasn't allowed to attend the christening (which was in a chapel at St Paul's Cathedral!) because I'm an ordained Buddhist, so we decided I'm his ungodlyfather instead :). My friend recently asked me to be his younger son's ungodlyfather too (which really moved me) so I had to explain to him that I was happy to, so long as he was happy that I was in the process of becoming their ungodlymother instead ;D. I like ungodlymother better than ungodlyparent, because it sounds like something out of a fairy tale :).

I'm a slightly atypical bod, in that I'm an MTF who wants SRS, because I want the female body I'm supposed to have started with - but in terms of gender, I identify way more out in the forest, and tend to describe myself as a tomboy if pushed. As such, I notice that I'm a lot less bothered by the pronouns strangers use for me than I thought I would be - what matters to me is what I know I am, and I'm always going to present as pretty ambiguous, I suspect.
Womandrogyne™

ativan

Re: Let's come up with some gender neutral terms
« Reply #18 on: October 28, 2011, 10:06:14 pm »
Lets see whats out there from languages that have 3rd gender terms. Maybe tie them to us with some of the Latin root of words.
Right now I'm to full of Vicodin to do much of anything. I think a bad movie on my bed tv is it for the nite.

I'm lik'n this.

Ativan, the watched one.

Offline Jaimey

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Re: Let's come up with some gender neutral terms
« Reply #19 on: October 29, 2011, 01:18:49 am »
I really prefer just using "they" when referring to someone who either isn't binary or when I just don't know.  I think it's difficult to try and create new words because people who aren't familiar with the non binary aren't going to understand it (I know, we can explain it, but still) and probably aren't going to adopt it.  But that's just me.  I tend to go right for the more logistical angle.  Plus, "they" is already an acceptable singular pronoun when the gender is unknown, or in many cases, non binary (I don't care what any English teacher says...if it is used and understood by most native speakers, it's acceptable.  There is no standard English!!!!  ...I'll get off my "acceptable English" soapbox now).

As for titles, though...that's harder.  I think that's where you can be more individualized about it.  For example, I have some friends who, while being totally white Americans, spent a lot of time in Turkey as children and they use the Turkish word for mother for their mom.  It's kind of adorable, I have to admit.  I also find that having a special nickname for someone can make you feel more bonded to them...if that makes sense.  My great aunt is called "Nonnie" for example, even though it's nothing close to her name and my grandmother (her sister) was always called "Sissy" by everyone but her immediate family.  There's something nice about that.  As for standard terms...I don't know.  All I can think about are the logistics of it.
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