How often have you been writing or talking about something, and wondered whether to use male or female pronouns? Things like, "When one is digging in the garden, he – uh, she – well, he or she should …" It's been a recurring theme for me lately in using the English language – the conventions that folks have come up with in the wake of the Cultural Revolution of the '60's to reflect our growing distaste of the patriarchal system that uses male pronouns as universal, as if women didn't exist or didn't matter. I've read people using alternate pronouns, first male, then female, then male, with a statement about it in the preamble. Some use plural pronouns in the singular – "they," instead of he or she. Others mix them – (s)he, his/her, she/he. All these solutions seem awkward and clumsy, none satisfactory.
It seems to me that here is another place where the emergence of visibility for transpeople contributes to bettering society, culture, and language. Dissatisfied with gendered pronouns, 'it', and the cultural binary that denies the wholeness of being for some people, some trans and two-spirit people have developed, or at least brought into more common usage, the gender-neutral pronouns "zie" (he and/or she), "hir" (him and/or her) and "hirs" (his and/or hers).
Despite that fact that I tread the line between man and woman, I'm quite clear I don't want those pronouns to refer to me. I don't mind using them to refer to people who prefer them, but I like female pronouns. Where I've been finding this construct most useful, however, is whenever I'm referring to singular third person in the general sense. "When one uses a digging fork, zie should take care that hir foot is not under the tines."
Well, you get the idea….