I’ve been thinking of writing for this for some time but have often dropped out of the mood to write it. Today I am ignoring the urge to not write anything and I think this is an important topic to write about. It started off as a question that I dared not to physically ask. I have a friend that, when we met, identified as being a ‘non-binary trans’. As an English student, I know what these terms mean. Had I have not gone to university, I probably would have had no idea. LGBT+ issues don’t generally tend to pop up in Yeovil. Everything is pretty conservative and traditional. Homosexuality is a thing, obviously. I have lots of gay/lesbian/bi friends but there isn’t much of a known trans community in Yeovil and LGBT+ issues aren’t all that talked about. it’s not like there are rainbow rallies at any point through the year, through the Quedam and down Middle Street. So, have I have not gone to uni, extended my vocabulary and met a great range of new people, I would have been completely ignorant of what my friend was talking about and would have absent mindedly agree with that they had said about their identity without having the guts to ask what it meant due to embarrassment.
However, I’m not completely clued in. I don’t pretend, well actually, I do a little, to know everything about the LGBT+ community and their issues. Not wanting to sound silly, or offend anyone, is what it all boils down to. So I was talking to my friend when I referred to them as a man. My friend corrected me by using the term ‘person’ and I felt a little silly and apologised. I then began to think about what I’ve called ‘the pronoun game’ and I know I’m not the only one to talk about it, but I am going to talk about it now. He is male. She is female. It is non-gendered. They is plural. Where does the person that does not feel they fit into a particular gender ideal fit in terms of the English language? It feels for too impersonal and inhuman. Using they is a breach of grammar rules. Do we completely invent new pronouns? I have seen the use of ‘Xhe’ and words surrounding this but I would have no idea how to pronounce this in a sentence. I saw a Tumblr debate on this. There were lots of comments that said that they respected the choices of Trans people on changing their gender identity and using the correct term that suits them. However, lots of people refused to change their language for those that could not identify with any given gender norm.
I wasn’t sure where I fit in this ‘debate’. I thought about it on the bus home a few weeks ago and I felt that gender wasn’t necessarily a yes or no question any more, and it may we be a case that it can’t be in the future. Of course, that’s hugely speculative of me. Instead of exclusive categories, I instead looked at gender as a spectrum, like colour. Masculine on one end, feminine on the other and people dotted about all over the place because I’ve never met a man that is ‘all masculine’ nor have I ever met a woman that is ‘all feminine’. Of course, that is masculine is a social construct anyway and these things do change from place to place and over time. I’m also aware of people not wanting to be on any part of the spectrum; genderless, but not sexless. So when it comes to pronouns, are we addressing gender, or are we addressing sex? Because gender and sex are different. Sex is male or female, and is decided upon which reproductive organs we are born with and which hormones we have rushing around our bodies. Gender is masculine or feminine- boy or girl, which is decided upon by our culture, social rules and regulations. One is outward and one is inward. One can effect the other.
This isn’t really meant to be educational in any sense, but reflective. Is our language far behind our time? Have our culture and politics out run our language? Do we need updating? And how would all this happen? Studying English Language A Level at Yeovil College gave me a lot of insight into how the language evolves or remains the same. When our society as a whole is evolved to a point, then our language too shall change. When everyone is knowledgeable about gender issues then the language shall be modified to suit the needs of the people. Right now, we’re just not at that point yet. ‘Xhe’ isn’t going to catch on for quite a while with the majority, if that’s the term non-binary, genderless, androgynous, unisex ect. people wish to be identified as. Maybe in the future gender will cease to exist? Can it? Who knows.
Thanks for reading guys, see you soon! x