College of Arts and Sciences
English, History, Language, Gender, Expression, LGBT, LGBTQ, Cisgender, Ze, Thon, Heo, Gender-neutral, Gender-Neutrality, Spivak, Pronoun, Greek, Protagoras, Aristotle, Linguistics, Transgender, They, Converse, Anderson, Declension
History of Gender | Intellectual History | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Other English Language and Literature
Robinson, Brodie, "From Heo to Zir: A History of Gender Expression in the English Language" (2018). Senior Honors Theses. 750.
With the growing presence of the LGBTQ+ community on the global stage, the matter of gender has been rushed to the forefront of the public consciousness. News outlets have hotly debated the topic of gender expression, a topic which has motivated mass demonstrations and acts of violence, and this has promoted a linguistic conversation at the international level.
This thesis is intended to provide the historical context for the contemporary debate on gender expression in the English language, and explores both the grammatical background (the Indo-European origins of linguistic gender, the development of the modern pronoun system, etc.) and the conceptual background (the Greek origins of “gender” as they differ from modern usage).