Will “Hen” replace Men? The new gender non-binary.

hen replace men
hen replace men
In 2007 Språk Magazine published an article about hen featuring Anne Uhrgård who at the time presented androgynously, raising the profile of the word. In 2012, the children’s book “Kivi & Monsterhund” was published, sparking a nationwide debate about hen. Credit: Nina Porzucki

In many languages the default gender when describing someone who’s gender is unknown (or refuse to accept) tends to be masculine. Editor Eduarda Alice Santos from Lisbon often gets driven to the point of distraction correcting and explaining the Brazilian media’s use of male pronouns when reporting transgender murders and resulting pejoratives.

But this may have begun to change in 2007 when a Swedish children’s book quietly used the pronoun ‘hen’.

In a local notice advertising a Christmas worship service, the church described Jesus using the pronoun ‘hen’, which in Sweden is used to refer to non-binary people or in cases where a person’s gender is not known or not relevant.

It’s awkward and dehumanizing, in my opinion, to address a gender natural person ‘them’ or they’ and other non binary pronouns. So is it time we start using ‘hen’ which according to PRI.org didn’t find widespread usage until Sweden’s LGBT community started using it?

Does the process of understanding and accepting gender nonbinary words result in positive change?

No one changed the word ma’am but after all of these years of being misgendered, I am both routinely and pointedly addressed with female pronouns. In my humble opinion words don’t just matter, they are magnificent life-giving breaths of air.

Listen to this very cool podcast about Kiwi the Monster dog and hen’ journey.

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Kelli, Busey is managing editor at Planet Transgender


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