A pronoun is only as stable as the noun it stands for. If Niamh does not always, or ever, identify-reveal as she, nor Oisín as he, their customary pronouns aren’t fit for purpose. At the same time, humans abhor the inanimacy of it-ness; hence the jump to omni-they to mask off he-she. The occasional sacrifice of number clarity is considered a tolerable trade-off.
That’s the answer you came for. Read no further and enjoy your day, unless you want a historical perspective.
Homo erectus and hominid successors practiced procreative coitus. Willy-nilly, mating pairs were sorted chromosomally into inseminator and whelper. Mates exchanged communicative rudiments on a me-you basis. Offspring required mention of a third person, which is how it came about: Is it alive? Feed it. Etc.
Mating pairs were soon dead; most whelps died in infancy; those that lived long enough figured out coitus; the species staggered on.
Hard experience led to the inclusion of approaching strangers in it. A whelper was a non-event, but an inseminator was likely to rape and pillage. So God coined the terms he and she to help His creatures judge when a threat was nigh:
— What’s that coming? — Not a she. It looks like a he! — Hide!
Thus the gendered, third-person-singular pronoun entered history. Time marched on, events befell, etc., bringing us to 2022.
The urgency of sexing strangers other than God has waned. Rape and pillage are mechanized. Whelps are proper nouns like Morgan and Whitney, Campbell and Mackenzie, Cassidy and Austin, Oral and Jedediah. One’s private persuasion is their sovereign business, which let’s the cat out of the bag: They is the it that wasn’t.
This finely adduced account bodies forth a theory wanting only facts to support it, the lack of which, in America, robustly argues for it.
Make America Groan Aghast.
(c) 2022 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved