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Sweden Is Adding a Gender-Neutral Pronoun to Its Dictionary

Sweden Is Adding a Gender-Neutral Pronoun to Its Dictionary


'Hen' may be used to refer to someone whose gender is unknown.


Gender-neutral pronouns are becoming more common as a growing number of LGBT people and allies strive to use language that accurately and respectfully reflects the broad range of gender identities people embrace. And the trend toward inclusive language isn't limited to English-speaking locales, according to U.K. newspaper The Guardian.

Sweden will formally add the gender-neutral pronoun 'hen' to the Swedish Academy's dictionary on April 15, the Guardian reported Tuesday. 'Hen' will join other existing prounouns --'han' (he) and 'hon' (she) -- as one of the 13,000 new words added to the dictionary that is amended every decade.

'Hen' may be used to refer to someone's gender who is transgender, transitioning, or someone whose gender is unknown, reports The Guardian.

The gender-neutral pronoun was first used in Sweden in the 1960s, reported The Guardian, and resurfaced in 2000 when the country's transgender community claimed it, though this is the first time the word is receiving formal linguistic recognition. 'Hen' is already used in "official texts, court rulings, media texts and books, and has begun to lose some of its feminist-activist connotation," notes The Guardian.

While personal preferences vary, many trans and gender-nonconforming English-speaking people currently use gender-neutral pronouns such as 'they,' 'them,' and 'their,' along with 'ze' and 'hir.'

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