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A circular dial with scale -3 to +3, grey background, red pointer vertical on 0. Dial colour pale blue shading to pale pink
October 25, 2021
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Gender neutral includes everyone: a statement we make during our training. We use the dial tainted with the blue and pink of expectations and ask participants to think about times they were happy at a particular point. Remember experiences when they felt pushed to conform to other expectations.

Have you thought recently about your comfort zones and how they intersect with your gender identity and gender role conformity?

Language defines us

Language allows us to define our experiences, to explain our inner world to others. Yet language also acts as a control. A way to ensure conventionality or to create a segmentation of inside and outside. A binary if you will.

A plethora of pronouns

Last week I was not alone in speaking about pronouns. International Pronouns Day nurtured a whole host of posts, of blogs, of interactions and of invitations.

Pronouns were shared, and discussion invited, by my cis gender friends. Those who are aligned with the gender they were assigned at birth. Those friends created a safe place for others to share, sometimes for others to come out for the first time.

The gender-neutral inclusion zone

On those walls most people gave their pronouns were the gendered ‘she’ or ‘he’ yet in their allyship they went one step further. Over half of them said that he, or she, was also OK with they as a pronoun. Not because she or he was non-binary but because “I want to be part of creating a world where gender is not the dominant criteria for defining people.

For the last 100 or so years, probably a lot more, people have been fighting back against gender segregation. Against gender stereotypes and limitations. Feminism has fought long and hard to rebalance the world. To make people equal in rights and opportunities.

Move beyond stereotypes

Now my friends, our allies, are taking that change a step further. They are actively neutralising language because they know that in so doing, we move further from stereotypes.

Having fun with gender neutral terms

If you like language as I do, if you want to make subtle changes then here is today’s glossary of upgraded words. Each one of these words takes the binary and combines it to make a new sense. There are sometimes many words for the same concept, that’s OK. Just writing today’s blog I discovered there were five good synonyms for conformity. Language is impressively flexible.

Why not try some of these out at home

Child instead of son or daughter

Nibling instead of niece or nephew

Sibling instead of brother or sister

Anuncle instead of aunt or uncle

Folks or people instead of guys or dudes

Toilet instead of men’s or ladies’

Grown-up rather and mum or dad or even parent. It’s a wonderfully inclusive term that recognises a child is not alone in the world but always has someone to refer to.

Partner for all those loved ones be they husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancé, fiancée

To whom it may concern instead of Dear Sir or Madam

What about those turns of phrase we are so used to?

A term of address for a room? I’ve always found “good evening” works but if you want something fancier how about “Lovelies and Gentlefolk” or even “Ladies, Gentlemen and everyone in-between”. A nice catch all for those who are neither ladies nor gentlemen, which I’m pretty sure is most of the population.

Do you need to be extravagant? “People of Planet Earth and those who have made their home here”. See how much fun you can have with this? You’re the compere, start your speech off with a smile.

And how about Commander instead of Master? We have just started using this one in planning for the AGM on the 13th November and have a Commander Agenda.

Go forth my fellow humans and have fun with language. Some words will stick better than others. Next time we meet please tell me which are your favourites.

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