Gender neutral language in cultural texts

Text corpus of gender neutral language

Share:

Normative “he/him” (he/him)

  • Canadian actor Elliot Page shares he is transgender (CBC News), 2020

    • Page said he has been inspired by many in the trans community, and thanked them for their courage, generosity and working to make the world a more inclusive and compassionate place.
      While Page said his joy is real, it is also "fragile." Despite feeling profoundly happy and acknowledging his privilege, he is also scared of the invasiveness, the hate, the jokes and the violence.
  • Ursula K. Le GuinThe Left Hand of Darkness, 1969

    • He was so feminine in looks and manner that I once asked him how many children he had. He looked glum. He had never borne any. He had, however, sired four. It was one of the little jolts I was always getting. Cultural shock was nothing much compared to the biological shock I suffered as a human male among human beings who were, five-sixths of the time, hermaphroditic neuters.
    • Seven years we were kemmerings, and had two sons. Being of his flesh born they had his name Foreth rem ir Osboth, and were reared in that Clanhearth. Three years ago he had gone to Orgny Fastness and he wore now the gold chain of a Celibate of the Foretellers. We had not seen each other those three years, yet seeing his face in the twilight under the arch of stone I felt the old habit of our love as if it had been broken yesterday, and knew the faithfulness in him that had sent him to share my ruin. And feeling that unavailing bond close on me anew, I was angry; for Ashe’s love had always forced me to act against my heart.

  • Linsey MillerMask of Shadows, 2017; a genderfluid character who goes by he, she or they depending on what they’re wearing

Normative “she/her” (she/her)

  • Alicja Ptak, Marcin GocłowskiThousands protest in Poland demanding release of LGBT activist (Reuters), 2020

    • The police started releasing detained protesters on Saturday, but not Margot.
      She is a member of the activist group “Stop Bzdurom”. The group have said they hung flags on statues last week as part of a fight for LGBT rights, an issue thrust into the heart of public debate in Poland during last month’s presidential election.
  • Jacob StolworthyEddie Izzard praised after fans notice use of she/her pronouns in latest TV appearance (The Independent), 2020

    • Earlier this week, the stand-up comedy star, 58, appeared on Sky Arts series Portrait Artist of the Year in which the show’s host Stephen Mangan and contestants referred to Izzard as “she” and “her”. Izzard’s fans, who were catching up with the show at the weekend, have posted supportive messages on social media.
    • Speaking about her decision, Izzard told contestant Chris Holder: "This is the first programme I've asked if I can be 'she' and 'her' – this is a little transition period." She said “it feels very positive”, adding: “I just want to be based in girl mode from now on.”
  • Ursula K. Le GuinWinter's King (in: The Wind's Twelve Quarters), 1975

    • “Argaven looked at them, face after face, the bowed heads and the unbowed.
      “I am Argaven,” she said. “I was king. Who reigns now in Karhide?”

  • Ann LeckieAncillary Justice, 2013

    • She was probably male, to judge from the angular mazelike patterns quilting her shirt. I wasn’t entirely certain. It wouldn’t have mattered, if I had been in Radch space. Radchaai don’t care much about gender, and the language they speak—my own first language—doesn’t mark gender in any way. This language we were speaking now did, and I could make trouble for myself if I used the wrong forms. It didn’t help that cues meant to distinguish gender changed from place to place, sometimes radically, and rarely made much sense to me.

  • Linsey MillerMask of Shadows, 2017; a genderfluid character who goes by he, she or they depending on what they’re wearing

  • YUNGBLUDmars (from the album “weird!”), 2020; This song is a pretty simple but sad story of a trans woman.

    • She dreamed she'd go to California
      There everyone would adore her
      And all her mates will call her
      'Til four in the morning”
    • But she can't be herself when she's somebody else
    • In the morning, she would take her mother's wedding ring

Singular “they” (they/them)

This list of sources includes both the version with “themselves” and “themself”, as well as those that don't happen to use reflexive.
  • ALOKBio on personal website, 2017

    • ALOK (they/them) is a gender non-conforming writer and performance artist. Their distinctive style and poetic challenge to the gender binary have been internationally renowned. As a mixed-media artist Alok uses poetry, prose, comedy, performance, fashion design, and portraiture to explore themes of gender, race, trauma, belonging, and the human condition. They are the author of Femme in Public (2017) and Beyond the Gender Binary (2020). In 2019 they were honored as one of NBC’s Pride 50 and Out Magazine’s OUT 100. They have presented their work in more than 40 countries.
  • Billions (Season 2, Episode 2), 2017

    • Hello, I'm Taylor. My pronouns are they, theirs, and them.
    • – She spotted that from outer space?
      – Not she. They.
  • City of Ghosts (Season 1, Episode 2: Venice), 2021

    • My name is Thomas. I use "they" and "them" for my pronouns.

  • DeGrassi: Next Class (Season 4, Episode 6 “#FactsOnly”), 2017

    • My favorite vlogger did a thing about this. They identify as genderqueer. Or, I think there’s another name for it. Um... Genderfluid. They feel like they’re between a boy or a girl. Or both. Or neither.

  • New Amsterdam (season 6, episode 6), 2019

    • Miss Verdene, well, I am Dr. Bloom, and this here is Nurse Brunstetter. And they're gonna take care of your lacerations.
  • One Day at a Time (Season 2, Episode 3: "To Zir, With Love"), 2018

    • – Anyway, I started talking to Syd and I found out we have so much in common. And I know you're not crazy about me dating, but I was just wondering if I could get ice cream with them.
      – And by "them" you mean just Syd?
      – Yes!

  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, 2019

    • Lord Hordak, I’d like to introduce you to Double Trouble. They’re our newest asset in taking down the Rebellion. (Season 4, Episode 3)
    • We captured Double Trouble! They’re refusing to talk to us, but... still! (Season 4, Episode 8)
  • Star Trek: Discovery (Season 3 Episode 8, “The Sanctuary”), 2020

    • – But even so, their work has been nothing short of stellar. They're... really something.
      They're also awake.

  • Avinash ChakBeyond 'he' and 'she': The rise of non-binary pronouns (BBC News), 2015

    • kat baus, a non-binary student who graduated from Harvard this year - and who also writes their name without capital letters - regrets that the university's computer system was not introduced earlier. "It would have been a lot easier and less awkward," baus says.
      baus sent emails or visited professors during office hours to explain their gender identity and pronouns. In smaller classes they (baus) brought it up when introducing themself.
  • Jamie FeldmanHow Being The First Non-Binary Person Vying For Miss Colorado USA Changed Their Life (HuffPost), 2019

    • Their friends and family were wary but supportive ― so much so that Stecina quickly collected enough money to cover the application fee through fundraising on social media ― and after publicly announcing their intention to compete, they found themself in a particularly vulnerable place.
  • Alison FloodMarieke Lucas Rijneveld wins International Booker for The Discomfort of Evening (The Guardian), 2020

    • In their acceptance speech, Rijneveld said they wrote the words “be relentless” on the wall above their desk while writing their novel.
      “Today, when the world has been turned upside down and is showing its dark side, I often remember those words. So, write, read, win, lose, love each other, but be relentless in this,” they said.
  • Ben KesslenNonbinary 'Billions' star Asia Kate Dillon won't be 'made precious' (NBC News), 2019

    • As Dillon explains it, when they started as a recurring character in Season 2, Taylor was ”sort of introduced as this moral and ethical center in a very unethical world.” A young, queer and nonbinary person entering the male-dominated hedge fund world, their character acted as an antidote to the hedge fund’s money-hungry male employees. But, as Dillon said, power and money “corrupt” and their character wasn’t immune.
  • Mordechai LaubKacen Callender shares the importance of queer novels (Young Entertainment), 2020

    • Kacen Callender is a bestselling and award-winning author. They have written novels for middle school readers, young adult readers, and adults. Kacen Callender born and raised in St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands. Some of Kacen Callender’s novels include This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story and Felix Ever After.
  • Nick RomanoMadagascar animated series welcomes a nonbinary character in Pride episode sneak peek (Entertainment Weekly), 2021

    • Ezra Menas couldn't identify with a character on screen until hir mid-20s. The actor from Broadway's Jagged Little Pill and the upcoming West Side Story movie — who identifies as nonbinary and uses zie/hir/they pronouns — saw actor Elliot Fletcher, a trans man, portray Aaron on an episode of The Fosters. It was "real, real late in my life," Menas tells EW. Before that moment, zie would project hir experience onto characters "always hoping for some kind of narrative to come through."
    • Thinking back to how little queer representation Menas saw on screen as a kid, they believe a character like Odee would've made hir younger self feel less alone.
  • Alexis PetridisSam Smith: Love Goes review – heartbreak album plays it safe in hard times (The Guardian), 2020

    • The lyrics stick fast to romantic misery, from infidelity to perfidious swine interested only in Smith’s bank balance. These are perennial topics for Smith, though as they told Lowe, their first two albums were inspired by unrequited love; Love Goes is apparently their “first proper heartbreak album”.
  • R. B. Lemberg (Uncanny Magazine), 2019

    • R.B. Lemberg is a queer, bigender immigrant from Ukraine, Russia, and Israel to the US. Their stories and poems have appeared in Lightspeed‘s Queers Destroy Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Uncanny Magazine, Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology, and more.
  • Star Trek: Discovery Introduces First Transgender and Non-Binary Characters (StarTrek.com), 2020

    • Del Barrio was in their final year of studies at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art when they auditioned for the role of Adira. Del Barrio has been acting in theater and short films since the age of 7, and they’re incredibly excited to make their television acting debut in season three of Discovery.
  • Charlie Jane AndrewsThe Bookstore at the End of America (short story from the collection A People's Future of the United States), 2019

    • Sander stared at the space where Souls on the Land ought to be, and their pale, round face was full of lines. They had a single tattoo of a butterfly clad in gleaming armor, and the wires rained from the shaved back of their skull. They were some kind of engineer for the Anoth Complex.
  • Yoon Ha LeePhoenix Extravagant, 2020

    • What did you expect? they asked themself. They'd known about Vei's loyalties from the beginning, even if she had Hwagugin blood. Being intimate with Jebi didn't change her nature. But they couldn't help wishing it were otherwise.
  • Linsey MillerMask of Shadows, 2017; a genderfluid character who goes by he, she or they depending on what they’re wearing

  • Daniel José OlderStar Wars: Last Shot, 2018

    • Now Taka was yelling something, singing, perhaps, in tune with the melodious love song that the world itself sang. They were insistent, there was somewhere apparently they wanted to be, and wanted Han to be, too, which was lovely.
  • Kelly RobsonIntervention (in Infinity’s End, edited by Jonathan Strahan), 2018

    • Émeraude unclipped and offered the doctor their hand. They were a kid with only two modes: all-out or flatline. A few months back, they’d injured themselves cranking on a crimp, completely bowstringing the flexor tendon.
  • William ShakespeareThe Comedy of Errors (Act IV, Scene III), 1594; Early use of (generic) singular they/them.

    • There's not a man I meet but doth salute me
      As if I were their well-acquainted friend
  • Virginia WoolfOrlando: A Biography, 1928; The titular character of Woolf's novel mysteriously changes from a man into a woman at the age of 30 and lives for over 300 years without aging. Singular they is used in the passage describing Orlando's “transformation”.

    • We may take advantage of this pause in the narrative to make certain statements. Orlando had become a woman--there is no denying it. But in every other respect, Orlando remained precisely as he had been. The change of sex, though it altered their future, did nothing whatever to alter their identity. Their faces remained, as their portraits prove, practically the same. His memory--but in future we must, for convention's sake, say 'her' for 'his,' and 'she' for 'he'--her memory then, went back through all the events of her past life without encountering any obstacle.
  • The Holy Bible, King James Version. Deutronomy 17:5, 1611; Early use of (generic) singular they/them.

    • Then shalt thou bring forth that man, or that woman (which haue committed that wicked thing) vnto thy gates, euen that man, or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones till they die.
  • atlas, jhflythey/them (from the EP “flowers”), 2018

    • You know it's they/them, as in me and most of mine
      Some identical identity, I keep 'em close beside
  • Sam DomingoIt’s as if my ears want to close, 2020; The poem was part of a performative lecture “When words erase people. Experiences of non-binary people in Poland and the Philippines”

    • A certain softness is in their voice,
      Almost whispering constant aggression.
      They tell me the slurs, now notes,
      have formed a harmonious hum of
      The melancholy of the linguistic conundrum.
      They sing to me an elegy for their dead name.
      It's as if my ears want to close.

      They smoke for a breather,
      Mimicking the gasps from sudden attacks
      Of "tita," [aunt] "ate," [sister] and "ma'am"
      Invoked from homophobic lungs
      That gave claustrophobic traumas.
      I gulp the air now a pound heavier.
      It's as if their ears want to close.
  • Blizzard EntertainmentMeet the Mercenaries – Varden Dawngrasp (a new character in the game Hearthstone), 2021

    • A curious intellectual seeking redemption in the eyes of their people…

      Dawngrasp spent most of their life in Silvermoon, a curious young elf and student of all things magical. They showed a preternatural gift for the arcane, quickly mastering various schools of magical thought. They were trained by Prince Kael’thas Sunstrider himself, who was part of the High Council of the Kirin Tor. It looked like Dawngrasp would rise through the ranks of the mages of Quel’thalas and attain the title of Magister.

      Alas, Arthas and the Scourge had other plans. In the aftermath of the destruction of the Sunwell, Kael’thas went to Outland, but Dawngrasp would not go. After the prince’s subsequent betrayal, many of the magisters, Grand Magister Rommath included, suspected that Dawngrasp might be in league with the traitorous prince. Alienated, Dawngrasp turned to their studies for comfort.

      After the Night of Falling Stars, a troll appeared in Silvermoon. His name was Kazakus, and he sought aid in gathering the glowing shards that had rained across the Barrens. Suspicious of the troll’s intentions, Dawngrasp went to Kalimdor of their own accord, seeking knowledge about the power contained inside the shards…

  • Bugsnax, 2020

    • Dislikes journalists for painting them as creepy.
    • Shelda stroked Lizbert's distrust of Floofty, and they fled.

Personal “it” (it/its)

  • Patric FallonArca Is the Artist of the Decade (Vice), 2019

    • The Venezuela-born artist, who came out as non-binary in 2018 and uses the pronouns "she" and "it," has come to embody practically every positive thing that is synonymous with the 2010s.
  • Ian McDonaldRiver of Gods, 2004; spelled "yt" in the book but otherwise used and pronounced the same way as personal "it"

    • A sudden lurch throws Tal from the bench seat. The phatphat bounces to a stop. Tal rearranges yts thermal scatter coat, tuts at the dust on yts silk pants, then notices the soldiers. Six of them phase out of rural night camouflage.

Neopronoun “ae” / “æ” (ae/aer)

  • Allison ForsythHow the Pandemic Upended the Life of Sarasota’s College Students (Sarasota Magazine), 2021

    • Online classes were foreign to Krasny, save for a random driver’s ed course ae took in high school. During lockdown, ae was taking welding and sculpting classes that required special materials, which the school provided. But it was hard to replicate assignments alone in aer room. (Oceanna uses the pronouns “ae” and “aer”).
  • A City of Surveillance and Wonders: Announcing S. Qiouyi Lu’s Debut Novella In the Watchful City (Tor.com), 2020; The article is about a book by S. Qiouyi Lu, who uses ae/they pronouns, titled "In the Watchful City." Anima, the protagonist of the book, uses æ/ær/ærs pronouns.

    • Tordotcom Publishing is thrilled to announce that Jonathan Strahan has acquired World English Rights to S. Qiouyi Lu’s In the Watchful City, a lyrical, intimate novella set in a remote, fantastical city that uses a complex living network to watch over its inhabitants and visitors. Through the lens of four interconnected stories, one of the city’s cloistered human overseers will see aer knowledge of aer world expand beyond the city’s boundaries to places—and possibilities—ae has never before imagined to exist.
    • S. Qiouyi Lu writes, translates, and edits between two coasts of the Pacific. Aer work has appeared in several award-winning venues. Ae edits the magazine Arsenika and runs microverses, a hub for tiny narratives. You can find out more about S. at aer website s.qiouyi.lu or on Twitter
    • sqiouyilu.
  • David LindsayA Voyage to Arcturus, 1920

    • No children were produced by the act; the lover aerself was the eternal child. Further, ae sought like a man, but received like a woman.
    • Ae possessed broad shoulders and big bones, and was without female breasts, and so far ae resembled a man. But the bones were so flat and angular that aer flesh presented something of the character of a crystal, having plane surfaces in place of curves.
    • Maskull found it impossible to compute aer age. The frame appeared active, vigorous, and healthy, the skin was clear and glowing; the eyes were powerful and alert—ae might well be in early youth.
  • S. Qiouyi LuIn the Watchful City (GoodReads book summary), 2021; This is the GoodReads summary of "In The Watchful City" by S. Qiouyi Lu. The main character is Anima and æ uses æ/ær/ærs pronouns. According to the reviews, other characters have neopronouns like se/ser/sers and e/em/eirs.

    • Anima is one of the cloistered extrasensory humans tasked with watching over Ora's citizens. Although ær world is restricted to what æ can see and experience through the Gleaming, Anima takes pride and comfort in keeping Ora safe from all harm.
    • As Anima’s world expands beyond the borders of Ora to places—and possibilities—æ never before imagined to exist, æ finds ærself asking a question that throws into doubt ær entire purpose: What good is a city if it can’t protect its people?

Neopronoun “co/cos” (co/cos)

  • Twin Oaks Community - Membership Agreement, 1989

    • Co will conduct coself according to the duly adopted rules, policies, and procedures of the Community as they exist at the time of this Agreement and as they may, by Community decision, change from time to time. In particular, co has read, understands, and agrees to abide by the Bylaws of Twin Oaks Community, Incorporated (hereinafter "the Bylaws"), which by reference are made a part of this document.
  • Paula C. RustSexual Identity and Bisexual Identities (in: Queer Studies: A Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Anthology, edited by Brett Beemyn and ‎Michele Eliason), 1996

    • At the very least, an individual might have to use different terms to describe coself in a heterosexual context than co uses in a sexual minority context and different terms in a Euro - American cultural context than in other racial and ethnic contexts

Spivak pronouns (e/em/eir)

  • Author: Maia Kobabe (The Nib), 2019

    • Maia Kobabe is a nonbinary, queer author and illustrator with an MFA in Comics from California College of the Arts. Eir first full length book, GENDER QUEER: A MEMOIR is forthcoming from Lion Forge in May 2019. Eir work focuses on themes of identity, sexuality, anti-fascism, fairy tales, and homesickness.
  • Bogi Takács: About the Author (Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 105), 2015

    • Bogi Takács is a Hungarian Jewish agender trans person (e/em/eir/emself or they pronouns) and a resident alien in the US. E is a winner of the Lambda award for editing Transcendent 2: The Year's Best Transgender Speculative Fiction, and a finalist for the Hugo and Locus awards. Eir debut poetry collection Algorithmic Shapeshifting is out now from Aqueduct, and eir debut short story collection The Trans Space Octopus Congregation was published in Fall 2019 by Lethe Press.
  • Ann LeckieProvenance, 2017

    • “No,” said the person sitting in the suspension pod. “I don’t even know who that is.” E noticed the cup Captain Uisine was proffering. “Thank you,” e said, and took it, cupped it in eir hands as Captain Uisine stopped the blanket from sliding off eir shoulders.
  • Michael D. SpivakThe Joy of TeX. A Gourmet Guide to Typesetting with the AMS-TeX Macro Package (The quotes are from the 2nd edition (2004 reprint), the original was published in 1982), 2004; Note the capitalization of the pronoun. Spivak himself, doesn't provide a reflexive form.

    • Just as ‘I’ is the first person singular pronoun, regardless of gender, so ‘E’ will be used in this book as the third person singular pronoun for both genders. Thus, ‘E’ is the singular of ‘they’. Accordingly, ‘Eir’ (pronounced to rhyme with ‘their’) will be the possessive, and ‘Em’ (rhyming with ‘them’) will stand for either ‘him’ or ‘her’. Here is an example that illustrates all three forms: E loves Em only for Eir body. (p. xv)
    • If a book designer wanted to use underlining extensively, E would have to design a special ‘\ul’ font in which each letter has an underline as part of it; of course, the letters g, j, p, q and y would be one of Eir design problems. (p. 18)
    • If the author uses such notation, it should be up to Em to indicate Eir intentions clearly, but there’s no harm checking first. (p. 63)

Neopronoun “e/em/es” (e/em/es)

  • Donald MacKayPsychology, Prescriptive Grammar, and the Pronoun Problem (American Psychologist. 35 (5): 444–449), 1980

    • Whether E is the best possible neologism is an­other matter. Determining a "best possible" neologism presents an unsolved problem of considerable theoretical magnitude. Current theories suffice to distinguish between actual versus possible versus impossible words without regard to concepts, but such a project requires new theories for discriminating within the indefinitely large set of possible words to find the one most suited for expressing a particular concept like "he or she."
  • James RogersThat Impersonal Pronoun ("The Writer"), 1890

    • Every writer has 'es' verbal likes and dislikes, yet, for the sake of convenience, I trust that even 'e' who dislikes verbal innovations will give my little word a little trial and note for me the result.

Elverson pronouns (ey/em)

  • Judie BlackEy has a word for it (Chicago Tribune), 1975

    • For example, a speaker might use these new transgender pronouns when ey addresses an audience of both men and women. Eir sentences would sound smoother since ey wouldn’t clutter them with the old sexist pronouns. And if ey should trip up in the new usage, ey would have only emself to blame.
  • Sayuri UedaThe Cage of Zeus (Translated from Japanese by Takami Nieda), 2011; Takami Nieda refers to Spivak pronouns in the Translator's Note, although the Elverson pronouns are actually used.

    • The figure that stood before him was in eir early thirties with spindly arms and legs and slight features. Eir silken hair, cut evenly at the chin, shone as it moved. Although difficult to guess eir ethnic origin and not exactly beautiful, ey had strangely magnetic eyes. “My name is Tei,” ey said.
    • One of the Rounds, panic-stricken at the thought of being hit, began to run, pushing and shoving the others around em.
    • But Fortia twisted free from his grasp and threw emself against the terminal.

Neopronoun “fae/faer” (fae/faer)

  • freygl gertsovski (AngelHousePress), 2021

    • freygl gertsovski is a queer, nonbinary multiply crip/mad, white settler Jewitch whose people are Ashkenasi from present-day Moldova. fae is a writer, artist, crafter, homesteader, and community organizer living, dreaming, working, co-creating, praying, and healing in Tkaronto (toronto). freygl has published 5 chapbooks of poetry in a series titled Growing Roots, Healing Wounds and has performed spoken word in Tkaronto (toronto), Metula (victoria), and elsewhere since 2012.. Faer poetry appears in NationalPoetryMonth.ca 2020 Ode to the Small.

Humanist pronouns (hu/hum)

  • Robert HumePocock's Contextual Historicism (in: The Political Imagination in History, edited by D. N. DeLuna), 2006

    • If hu is dealing with many writers, most especially if they span decades or centuries , then serious problems of consistency and connectivity arise.

Neopronoun “ne/nem” (ne/nem)

  • A.C. WiseNon-binary authors to read – May 2020 (The Book Smugglers), 2020

    • Matthias Klein is an author and collector of dead things and my recommended starting place for nir work is “The Art of Quilting”, which first appeared in the anthology Survivor edited by Mary Anne Mohanraj and JJ Pionke and reprinted in Transcendent 4: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction edited by Bogi Takács.
  • Susan Driver, Natalie Coulter Youth Mediations and Affective Relations, 2018

    • Kay's experience of romantic attraction is different from mainstream narratives about romance. Being able to sum up nir specific, personal experience of romantic attraction with a single word—akoiromantic— makes it easier for Kay to communicate nir feelings and needs to the people around nem.

Neopronoun “ne/nir” (ne/nir)

  • Allie FireelWhen love is (really) complicated: being asexual, aromantic, demisexual, 2018

    • Fawkes also found nir people on Facebook, discovering nonbinary gender and asexuality at the same time. Ne didn’t know how to identify nirself, but had known for a long time that hetero and gender normativity was not the answer.
  • Merc Fenn WolfmoorOur Aim Is Not to Die (short story from the collection A People's Future of the United States), 2019

    • They log in Maya’s information and bring up nir location log. Maya isn’t home. Nir GPS marker shows ne is a couple of blocks away, near an abandoned warehouse scheduled for demolition in the spring.
    • “Can I give you a hug?” ne asks. Sua nods again, and Maya pulls them close, fierce, and squeezes until their breath comes short. “One day, it’ll be okay again,” Maya whispers. “I love you, Sua. Stay safe.”
      Then Maya disentangles nirself and runs.

Person pronouns (per/per)

  • Marge PiercyWoman on the Edge of Time, 1976

    • I’ve read of this and seen a drama too about a person who sold per body to feed per family!
    • Barbarossa dyes per beard, in truth. Isn’t it pretty? It was brown before.
    • Then the aunts person selected—advisers for the next years—return for per.
    • My child named perself this month, too.

Neopronoun “s/he” (s/he/hir)

  • A. D. AmorosiGenesis P-Orridge, of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, Dies at 70 (Variety), 2020; uses "h/er" instead of "hir"

    • S/he formed Throbbing Gristle in the mid-1970s with Chris Carter, Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson and Cosey Fanni Tutti, releasing seminal industrial album “The Second Annual Report” in 1977. Throbbing Gristle released nine albums and broke up in 1981, reuniting nearly 20 years later.
  • Peter DavidStar Trek: New Frontier: The Two-Front War, 1997

    • S/he gestured in a friendly, but not too aggressive manner, and waved at the empty seat opposite hir. Selar hesitated a moment and then, with what appeared to be a profound mental sigh, approached Burgoyne.
  • Sharyn Graham Davies Challenging Gender Norms: Five Genders Among Bugis in Indonesia, 2007

    • S/he wears trousers, shirts, and t-shirts . S/he has short hair. S/he is attracted to feminine women, and s/he works in the capital city of South Sulawesi, Makassar, as a disk jockey. While Eri certainly does not feel hirself to be a woman, s/he does not deny the fact that s/he is female-bodied.
  • Michael A. MartinStar Trek: Titan: Fallen Gods, 2012

    • To refine hir focus and concentration, Eid'dyl retracted hir sensory stalks, effectively blinding hirself. Seeking the mind that the Old Records said dwelled here in order to see to the Undercity's repair and maintenance needs, Eid'dyl called out into the darkness.
  • Amanda Lock SwarrSouth African Transgendered Subjectivities: Exploring the Boundaries of Sex, Gender, and Race, 2003

    • Within this framework, social factors are deemed more important than physiological ones. Medically, Nhlanhla will have to be treated with hormones and surgeries at least into hir adolescence.

Neopronoun “thon” (thon/thons)

  • Charlie KaufmanAntkind, 2020

    • I am not certain what I am hoping to learn, but I have discovered through my research into the underrated and trailblazing work of filmmaker Allen Albert Funt that a person who believes thonself to be unobserved will act in a manner different from a person who believes thonself to be observed.
    • "I can't let you see my therapist, B."
      "Why?"
      "We talk about you. It would be a conflict of interest for thon.”
      “Your therapist is a thon?”
      “No. But I prefer not to even be specific about thon's gender.”
      “Why?"
      “I'm afraid it might allow you to track thon down and see thon behind my back.”
  • Henry G. WilliamsOutlines of Psychology, 1895

    • It should be the constant aim of the teacher to cultivate thons own ethical imagination, and to hold up constantly to the pupils' view the ideal manhood and womanhood. (p. 52)
    • No teacher can fully comprehend the disadvantages to which thons school is subject without a good library, until teacher and school have had free and frequent access to one. (p. 78-79)
    • Is the attention of the pupil chiefly on thonself, another person or object, or on the subject at hand? (p. 111)

Neopronoun “ve/ver” (ve/ver)

  • Greg EganDistress, 1995; The pronouns are used with reference to “asex” characters (it's a sci-fi novel in which some people rid themselves of sex characteristics and sexuality as a, sort of, political/philosophical manifesto) and generically (instead of, e.g. singular “they”).

    • Every journalist paraphrased vis subjects (p. 19)
    • Ve was dressed in black jeans and a loose black T-shirt. (p. 95)
    • Science and technology seemed to have given ver everything ve could ask for (p. 194)
    • Kuwale hesitated and cast vis eyes down. (p. 195)
    • I could hear ver breathing slowly, trying to calm verself (p. 227)
  • Greg EganDiaspora, 1998

    • Yatima surveyed the Doppler-shifted stars around the polis, following the frozen, concentric waves of
      color across the sky from expansion to convergence. Ve wondered what account they should give of
      themselves when they finally caught up with their quarry.
    • Yatima couldn't speak for vis fellow traveler, but the answer for ver lay at the opposite end of the scale,
      in the realm of the very simple, and the very small
    • The pewter-skinned citizen clasped vis hand to vis chest and said, “I'm Inoshiro.” The golden-furred citizen clasped vis hand to vis chest and said, “I'm Gabriel.” The black-silhouetted citizen gave vis hand a thin white outline to keep it from vanishing as ve moved it in front of vis trunk, and said, “I'm Blanca.”
    • Entrusting a version of verself to another citizen would have been unthinkable, back in Konishi. Yatima placed vis palm against Inoshiro's, and they exchanged snapshots.
  • Keri HulmeThe Bone People, 1983

    • And stop calling it 'it': yer got yer one great invention, remember Holmes? The neuter personal pronoun; ve/ver/vis, I am not his, vis/ve/ver, nor am I for her, ver/vis/ve, a pronoun for me.
  • Hannu RajaniemiA Portrait of Salai (in Infinity’s End, edited by Jonathan Strahan), 2018

    • That was Sfumato’s precedent, that was what ve did. That was what defined ver: running away from unfinished things. Ve had been doing it since before ve was born.
  • Alastair ReynoldsOn The Steel Breeze, 2013

    • Travertine’s a pretty divisive figure. Ve’s a friend of mine – or was, I suppose. When ve was last in trouble, I was one of those who pushed for a lighter punishment. The issue split the assembly – Sou-Chun was among those who felt we needed to make a clearer example of ver, if only to keep the rest of the local caravan happy.
    • You spoke to Travertine yesterday, when ve came to your house. How would you describe vis state of mind?
    • So Travertine had set verself on this path, constantly testing Assembly authority, chafing against restrictions, pushing vis luck. After the last censure, ve had done well to avoid imprisonment. But Travertine always rebuilt and pushed further. And Chiku had to agree with ver here – the Assembly always knew what Travertine was up to and chose not to intervene. Because on some unspoken level they wanted ver to succeed.

Neopronoun “vi/vir” (vi/vir)

  • Kaia SønderbyTone of Voice, 2018

    • I glanced at private P'yo Jae-shin as vi joined me, setting vir bag at vir feet. Vi was tiny, roughly around the same height as Captain Chui, though with a deceptively slender build. (p. 101)

Neopronoun “xe/xem” (xe/xem)

  • J. Blackburn, K. Gottschewski, Elsa George, and Niki L.A discussion about Theory of Mind: From an Autistic Perspective (from Autism Europe's Congress), 2000; (2019 reprint in “Autonomy, the Critical Journal of Interdisciplinary Autism Studies” Vol. 1 No. 6)

    • And if you see that someone has some abilities which are totally inexplicable and like magic to you, it can easily look like xe would be able to do and know everything.
    • Of course the nature of knowledge or logic depends on xyr experience, reasoning ability, environment, object of current perseveration and fixation, and so on.
  • Jim SinclairIf you could choose… (archived from the original), 1992

    • I wouldn't want to miss out on knowing such a person just because xe happened to be the “wrong” sex.
  • Artur NowrotDragon Child (#EnbyLife. Journal for Non-Binary & Gender-Diverse Creatives.), 2021

    • If you don’t behave, the dragon will get you, people used to say to Yare. Whenever xe was too loud, got carried away during playtime, did not eat something xe was supposed to, when xe didn’t pay xer elders the respect they felt they were owed. Later, when xe struggled with the learning and tasks xe was assigned, when xe wasn’t fast or strong or clever enough, the other children would taunt, Dragon Child! Dragon Child!
    • The dragon came quickly. There was a rustle, a swoop, a blow of air, and there drae stood, towering above Yare, iridescent. The dragon looked at Yare, narrowed draer eyes, sizing xer up. Imagine if drae rejected the offering! Please, take me, dragon. Don’t make me more of a failure then I already am.
    • When drae found out the truth, drae took the child with draem. And kept draer eye on the villagers. Until gradually the custom shifted and people started giving their children to the dragon. Drae took everyone in.”

Neopronoun “ze/hir” (ze/hir)

  • Mari CohenBeyond the Gender Binary: Alternatives to “boy” and “girl” (The Communicator), 2011

    • Growing up, Williams always just thought of hirself as a tomboy. Ze definitely was “not your typical stereotype of a little girl,” but still identified as a girl.
      Then, the summer after Williams’s sophomore year, hir friend mentioned the term genderqueer in a conversation. Though Williams had heard the term in passing before, ze wasn’t really sure exactly what it meant. After the conversation, Williams Googled “genderqueer”, not knowing that the search results would completely change hir identity.
  • Levi C. R. HordBucking the Linguistic Binary: Gender Neutral Language in English, Swedish, French, and German (Proceedings of Western Interdisciplinary Student Symposium on Language Research, Iss. 1, Vol. 3), 2016

    • Speaking from hir unique gender position, Feinberg highlighted what ze called a “crisis of language” (Owen 1996) which often results in clumsy dual constructions such as s/he, and which would be solved by abandoning binary language altogether in favour of specific language to suit complex gender identities. (p. 6)
  • Meredith BroussardWhen Binary Code Won’t Accommodate Nonbinary People (Slate), 2019; Zemí Yukiyú Atabey's pronouns are ze/zem.

    • That aesthetic, however, dates to the very earliest era of computing. It’s not inclusive. It is specifically exclusionary to someone like Zemí Yukiyú Atabey, an NYU graduate student who identifies as genderqueer and nonbinary. Atabey’s pronouns are ze (“Where is ze?”)/zem (“I don’t have the tickets. I gave them to zem.”). “As a nonbinary person, there is no option most of the time,” ze says of entering personal information in databases. “There’s only male or female, which doesn’t fit my reality or identity.” Microsoft Word, the program I used to compose this story, marked all of Atabey’s pronouns with the red squiggly underline. Meaning: The people at Microsoft who wrote Word do not recognize Atabey’s pronouns as acceptable English words, even though the genderqueer community has been suggesting the use of ze and hir as pronouns for at least 20 years.
  • Nick RomanoMadagascar animated series welcomes a nonbinary character in Pride episode sneak peek (Entertainment Weekly), 2021

    • Ezra Menas couldn't identify with a character on screen until hir mid-20s. The actor from Broadway's Jagged Little Pill and the upcoming West Side Story movie — who identifies as nonbinary and uses zie/hir/they pronouns — saw actor Elliot Fletcher, a trans man, portray Aaron on an episode of The Fosters. It was "real, real late in my life," Menas tells EW. Before that moment, zie would project hir experience onto characters "always hoping for some kind of narrative to come through."
    • Thinking back to how little queer representation Menas saw on screen as a kid, they believe a character like Odee would've made hir younger self feel less alone.
  • Denise Petski‘Another Life’: Eight Cast In Netflix Sci-Fi Drama Series (Deadline), 2018

    • Zayn is the ship’s medic, and since in the future medicine is a whole lot more holistic than it is now, ze is also the ship’s shrink. Ze is extremely logical, intuitive, and curious. As chief medic, ze must confront hir worst fears of losing those people ze’s grown closest to.
  • Charlie Jane AndrewsBecause Change Was the Ocean and We Lived by Her Mercy (in: Transcendent 2: The Year's Best Transgender Speculative Fiction), 2017; uses the spelling "sie" instead of "ze"

    • Joconda was sort of the leader here. Sie sometimes had a beard and sometimes a smooth round face covered with perfect bright makeup. Hir eyes were as gray as the sea and just as unpredictable.
  • K. A. CookThe Differently Animated and Queer Society (A short story from a collection called “Crooked Words” by K. A. Cook), 2013

    • Pat couldn’t help a slight frown as ze got out of hir car. It wasn’t likely that someone was going to try and mug a zombie, but even so, the neighbourhood didn’t seem all that prosperous. There weren’t even too many cars around, just one down the other end of the street and a rusty bike chained to a light post.
      Maybe ze shouldn’t have waited until ze’d be the last to arrive. What if everyone had come, decided that nobody was coming, and gone home already? What if ze was the only one to come at all?
    • This will be fine, Pat told hirself, in what felt like a ridiculous attempt to bolster hir courage. If ze had summoned up the courage for hir last job interview—and Pat thought ze would have gotten it despite being undead if ze felt remotely inclined to try and pass, something that annoyed hir job seeker support officer no end—then ze could summon up the courage to do this. This should be easier than a job interview!
  • Chayanika Shah, ‎Raj Merchant, ‎Shals MahajanNo Outlaws in the Gender Galaxy, 2015

    • One respondent with an intersex variation said that ze thought of hirself as a woman, but was unsure. While ze would have liked to identify as 'woman' due to societal scripts around what male or female bodies should look like, ze did not allow hirself to call hirself a woman.
  • Susan Stryker, Stephen WhittlePreface to a reprint of Leslie Feinberg's pamphlet in “The Transgender Studies Reader”, 2006

    • Leslie Feinberg, whose particular style of being transgender helped non-gender-specific pronouns like “s/he” and “hir” achieve a limited popularity over the past decade, must be considered a founding figure of contemporary transgender studies. Hir influential pamphlet, reproduced below, took an older (and apolitical) term — transgender — and infused it with a radical new meaning. (p. 205)
    • Though hir particular theory of history has not attracted widespread support in transgender communities, hir work has gained a devoted and grateful following for the powerful way it calls upon transgender people to recover their historical legacy, and to harness that knowledge to the current struggle for a more just society. (p. 205)

Neopronoun “ze/zir” (ze/zir)

  • One Day at a Time (Season 2, Episode 3: "To Zir, With Love"), 2018

    • I'm Margaux. Pronouns "ze" and "zir".

  • Ella BraidwoodThe Chinese transgender choir who’re singing for acceptance (PinkNews), 2019

    • Yuran, now 31, came out as trans in 2015 and started buying testosterone online. The Trans Chorus singer had struggled with zir gender identity growing up.
  • Charlie Jane AndrewsBecause Change Was the Ocean and We Lived by Her Mercy, 2017; uses the spelling "zi" instead of "ze"

    • Juya had these big bright eyes that laughed when the rest of zir face was stone serious, and strong tentative hands to hold me in place as zi tied me to the car seat with fronds of algae. I had never felt as safe and dangerous as when I crossed the wasteland with Juya.
  • Erica CameronPax Novis, 2019

    • Breaths hitched in zir chest, blocked by the lump in zir throat, and ze felt zir eyes widen. Ze didn't have training in keeping zir thoughts hidden behind an emotionless mask. What ze knew had been learned from cycles as a station rat and all the times zir life had depended on how well ze told a lie.

Neopronoun “zhe/zher” (zhe/zher)

  • Ritch CalvinFeminist Science Fiction and Feminist Epistemology: Four Modes, 2016

    • When zher husband died in 1909, zhe opened the school, but was forced to close it shortly thereafter. Zhe relocated to Calcutta and reopened the school there.
  • Chuck WendigStar Wars: Aftermath: Life Debt, 2016

    • Zhe stands aside as more of zher crew rushes in. From the entranceway come the sounds of yelling, crying, another flash detonator going off. Eleodie hums a song in tune with the universe, hands behind zher back, eyes shut tight. Waiting.

Interchangeable forms (he or she)

  • Lena Scherman, Linda HörnqvistLåt mig leva [Let me live] (Sveriges Television), 2020; a Swedish Television documentary featuring Polish non-binary activist Lucien Gaszyńska

    • [Lucien] I switch between female pronouns and male pronouns when I'm speaking. I define myself as non-binary. Yeah, I'm non-binary.
  • Non-binary person – who is it? Margot, Łukasz Jurewicz and other LGBT persons (Polish News), 2020

    • Łukasz is studying – he will be a paramedic in a year. She has had internships and volunteers behind her. – I am an ordinary person and my everyday life looks like everyone else – she emphasizes. He speaks openly and honestly about himself, especially today in the context of the recent events and Margot’s arrest – also a non-binary person.
  • Rick RiordanThe Hammer of Thor, 2016

    • Look, some people prefer they (...) They’re nonbinary or mid-spectrum or whatever. If they want you to use they, then that’s what you should do. But for me, personally, I don’t want to use the same pronouns all the time, because that’s not me. I change a lot. That’s sort of the point. When I’m she, I’m she. When I’m he, I’m he. I’m not they. Get it?
  • Rick RiordanThe Ship of the Dead, 2017

    • I suppose that was meant to be funny. Most of the time, Alex identified as female, but today he was definitely male. Sometimes I slipped up and used the wrong pronouns for him/her, so Alex liked to return the favor by teasing me mercilessly. Because friendship.
  • Chuck WendigStar Wars: Aftermath: Life Debt, 2016

    • I envy you today for the blessing you are about to receive as you are poised ineluctably to meet his highness, her glory, his wonder, her luminous magnificence—the picaroon! The plunderer! The pirate ruler of Wild Space! The glorious knave, Eleodie Maracavanya!

Interchangeable forms (she or they)

  • Kim NovakGrey’s Anatomy’s Sara Ramirez confirms they identify as non-binary (Metro), 2020

    • Grey’s Anatomy star Sara Ramirez has told fans they identify as non-binary on Instagram, and will use the pronouns ‘she’ and ‘they’. The actor, 44, who played Callie Torres in the medical series from 2006 until 2016, shared a selfie and told their followers: ‘New profile pic. ‘In me is the capacity to be Girlish boy, Boyish girl, Boyish boy, Girlish girl. All. Neither. #nonbinary’.
  • Rebecca Sugar (Nonbinary Wiki),

    • In July 2018 she [Rebecca Sugar] came out as a nonbinary woman, and stated the Gems in Steven Universe are also nonbinary women. Sugar uses the pronouns she/her or they/them

Interchangeable forms (he or they)