London

Pride language 101: Navigating pronouns and queer terms

It can be challenging for the average person, grammar buffs especially, to adopt a new language. There is also a steep learning curve that come with respectfully addressing preferred sexual orientation.

The pronouns 'she' and 'him' are being replaced by 'ze' and 'hir' to suit gender preferences

Western University student Levi Horde self-identifies as non-binary. (Kate Dubinski/CBC News)

If you meet Levi Horde, the way you commonly use language will have to change.  

The 21-year-old wants to be referred to as "they," a decision made soon after high school to address their gender preference.  

"It cut back the huge discord and discomfort I felt when anyone used the pronoun "she" to refer to me."

Horde, a fourth year student at Western University, self-identifies as non-binary, which means they is neither male or female.

"Once I got to university and started to make my own path, I discovered these new terms and this new language that was really liberating for me."

Language always evolving

It can be challenging for the average person, grammar buffs especially, to adopt a new language. There is also a steep learning curve, Horde admits. 

Horde said some people may believe if a word is not in the dictionary or a phrase is not grammatically correct, it's not worth adopting.

They calls it shortsighted.

"Language is created by the people. It's created by the speech communities that use it and that's how language changes. It changes organically. It is hard to do and it takes a lot of time."

A snapshot of London Pride Festival's glossary of terms. (London Pride Festival)

Horde said some people use the pronouns "ze" and "hir" to replace "she" and "him." Others use the title "Mx." instead of Ms., Mrs., or Mr.

"A lot of people have their political opinions about this language and how they think language should be and how they think gender should be. When you're talking one-on-one with someone, it's no longer about politics.

"If you're refusing to use someone's pronoun in a one-on-one conversation, that's about compassion and respect."

So what should you do if you mistakenly refer to Horde as she, as opposed to they? 

"Apologize," they explained.  

London Pride Festival published a complete glossary of Trans terms. You can find that here.

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