A Note on Pronouns

I, P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, am a metagender person. This means that I am not of a conventional, binary gender–I’m third, or fifth, or ninth, or thirty-seventh gender; in the gender binary, I am a conscientious objector. I personally don’t believe that there are only two genders; in fact, humans have at least five possible biological sexes, so why wouldn’t there be at least five genders possible? But, five is too little…

Or, more as a kind of rebus of both gender and sexual orientation, metagender means “I never met-a-gender I didn’t like.” ;)

As a result, my pronouns are different than the usual ones one might be used to with more conventional, binary genders. I prefer the Old Spivak pronouns, which run as follows:

subject: e (e.g. “E is a metagender person”; “E wrote a blog post”)
object: em (e.g. “I gave the book to em”)
possessive adjective: eir (e.g. “This is eir book”)
possessive pronoun: eirs (e.g. “The book is eirs”)
reflexive: emself (e.g. “E muttered to emself”)

For some further reading on metagender matters on the current blog, see the following links:

Gods, Magic, Myth, and Modernity
Gender and Sexual Orientation: Rarely the Twain Doth Meet…?!?
Paganism and Privilege: Visible and Invisible Privileges Discussed
Physicality and Trans-Ness
The Politics of “Manliness”
PantheaCon and Gender Matters
PantheaCon 2012: Transgender Inclusion/Exclusion
Justin Vivian Bond: You Are Awesome!

Responses

  1. […] A Note on Pronouns […]

  2. I’m in the habit of using singular “they” when I know a neutral pronoun is preferred, but am unsure or can’t remember what. If I forget the Spivak, you don’t mind that habit of mine, do you?

    I actually prefer the way that Spivak looks, in print, but it’s so uncommon that I just haven’t gotten into the habit of using it when a neutral pronoun is ideal (like generically speaking of “the teacher” or “the doctor” and all), but most people know singular-they, even though it’s fallen out of favour for formal writing.

    • Certainly, no worries–”they” is something I still use on many occasions, as it is a very good all-purpose “don’t know the genders involved” signifier. I know several folks who prefer it as their pronoun, and Panprosdexia prefers it as their pronoun as well (though they’re non-gendered…but anyway).

  3. […] A Note on Pronouns […]

  4. I appreciate that you put this information here.

    I think I might start using these pronouns in my own writing. When my room mate years ago started having treatments to move male to female transgender, I discovered that the Talmud actually talks of five biological genders. I was amazed that Rabbis knew of that so long ago.

    • Glad you found it useful!

      One thing Judaism has always done well, even after becoming (supposedly) monotheist, is diversity. ;)

  5. Insisting on one’s own personal pronouns is a whole new level of megalomaniac narcissism.

    • Thank you for demonstrating your privilege and bigotry. I appreciate knowing who my enemies are.

  6. […] A Note on Pronouns […]

  7. PSVL, this is very useful to know. I have felt for a long time that our language needs a set of genderless pronouns which can be used to refer to persons (as opposed to the impersonal “it”). Interestingly, some genderless English pronouns were created decades before Spivak by David Lindsay in his wondrously surreal gnostic fantasy VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS (1920). In the novel, there is a brief segment about a being called Leehallfae — a human who is of a third gender. In referring to this character, Lindsay created and used the pronouns “ae”, “aer”, and “aerself”. While it is just a small part of the book, it is probably the first introduction of genderless personal pronouns in modern English literature. I’m not familiar with the history of Spivak pronouns, but do you think it’s possible that Spivak had read VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS and was inspired by it to create the newer pronouns?

    • Thanks for this information! I wasn’t aware of Lindsay’s use of third-gender pronouns…It’s possible that Michael Spivak did know about Lindsay, certainly; he’s a mathematician, and likely as not has read books of that nature, so perhaps there was an influence, but I don’t know that for certain. In any case, awesome! (I have not read Voyage to Arcturus myself, but perhaps I’ll put it on my list!)

      • Thank *you* for your excellent blog, PSVL! By the way, turns out we have a mutual friend: About a week ago I recommended Aedicula Antinoi to my FB friend and Gnostic brother Michael, and he told me he already knew and admired your scholarship and work. Now I see that you’ve included his blog (Digital Enchiridion) on your blogroll too…. small cyberworld!

      • Our dear friend Michael has been holding out on you: not only does he know me, but we’ve collaborated on several things–he’s done art for a few of my books, he wrote a bit of A Serpent Path Primer, and he’s been a Mystes of Antinous since 2009. The cyberworld is smaller than one might think, especially when we all live near each other (though I used to live nearer, so saw him more often than I do now).

  8. […] weekend and discussed the issue.  Patheos blogger John Halstead and Lupus both discussed it in his/eir own articles, which you can read to get an idea of what actually happened.  I wasn’t there, so I […]

  9. Hmm, I didn’t know there was a NEW Spivak. Now I’m wondering which one I researched for my article on pronouns: https://suite101.com/a/genderneutral-spivak-pronouns-in-the-office-a90387

    • The differences between Old and “non-Old” are pretty slight, from what I understand…

      • Any system that resolves the fight over the “singular they” is all right in my book.

  10. […] are different from the binary gendered pronouns most people are familiar with.  For more info, see here.  Consequently, what looks like typos above is the intentional use of alternative pronouns for an […]

  11. […] Sufenas Virius Lupus is a metagender person, and the founder of the Ekklesía Antínoou–a queer, Graeco-Roman-Egyptian syncretist […]

  12. I take it that metagender means “beyond gender”? Good stuff. I like the idea of being a conscientious objector to the gender binary, too.

    Also like the Old Spivak pronouns, they flow quite nicely. I was talking about you to my partner at the weekend, and it felt quite natural to say “e”, “em” etc.

    Did you know that in Danish, ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’ are the same word, kæreste?

    • In a manner of speaking, yes: but more “beyond” in the sense that “three” is beyond “two,” and so on; it’s not that I am beyond gender, it’s just that my gender is beyond the current binary in our culture. If we had a culture in which there were five genders, and I happened to be a different one, I’d still be metagender in those cultures as well, etc.

      I did not know that about Danish, but that’s very cool! I’ve met some cool Danes in my time, so this is all the more reason to think they’re awesome!


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