Getting the pronouns right when talking about any other transwoman is easy, peasy lemon squeezy but when it comes to Mr Kimlin I have deep entrenched habits and emotions involved. I’m not ready to have a wife yet. At home it’s easy when Mr Kimlin is Mr Kimlin I call him he and when Amanda is in a dress I call her she. It gets more complicated when he has chosen a halfway house and he’s neither one nor the other.
Today when writing Best Possible Taste: The Grand Reveal I had a dilemma. Steph isn’t ready to call Nick she any more than I was at that stage. She settled for the gender neutral they. All went well until I got to this sentence: At the corners of Nick’s mouth a smile was ghosting and they was fighting a desire to join in. After what felt like a long time she pulled herself together enough to ask, “For goodness sake, Nick, help me up.”
My first natural reaction was to write they were. It sounds right doesn’t it? But that’s because I had never really used they as a singular pronoun for a known and named person or character before. It caused me to pause. After talking to Banana Bug who is entirely comfortable with they as an alternative gender neutral pronoun and reading up online it appears to be a language issue in flux. As a result grammar rules appear to be changing in some quarters. They was vs they were became a
serious issue and it is why Best Possible Taste was late going up tonight.
I have a family member who is intersexed and I know that around one in fifteen hundred babies is born neither entirely male nor female and I know that children have been maimed in the past when they’ve been altered so we can tick a legal gender box. This is as common as people with red hair yet we rarely talk about it.
We need a singular and gender neutral pronoun. The choices in English are it, they or hir (and other similar propositions). Hir and its associates are not yet well known and I’m not yet comfortable with using them plus I struggle to pronounce them. At the stage in the journey Steph is at it's unlikely she is o fay with them yet. The use of it as the pronoun is rude and impersonal. Neither Mr Kimlin nor Nick are objects. I’m left with they.
In Best Possible Taste and Kidology I have taken the decision to use they as a singular pronoun, but also to use it as he/she. Yes they was sounds horrible but the more I’ve written and thought about it they was has become less horrible and I’m warming to it.
I've included a YouTube link to a wonderful documentary about intersexed people that the BBC did called Me, My Sex and I. It's a good starting place.
The Kimlin Family