A review of Melanie Gillman’s “A Brief Timeline of Singular They” in We’re Still Here: An All Trans Comics Anthology (Stacked Deck Press, 2018).
By Derek Newman-Stille
In a period of time where people are making their careers on discriminating against the use of the singular “they”, Melanie Gillman’s comic “A Brief Timeline of Singular They” illustrates that the singular “they” has been used for a long period of time in the English narrative, and has been considered to be grammatically correct throughout much of that history. Gillman educates their readers about the history of “they” in a way that challenges the trend of using “its grammatically incorrect” to justify refusing to use people’s pronouns.
Gillman illustrates their extensive knowledge of pronouns by not only illustrating the history of the singular “they” from the 1300s onward, but also their knowledge of alternatives to “they” including Coleridge’s suggestion about using “it” as a gender neutral pronoun, James Anderson’s proposal for using “ou” as a gender neutral pronoun, the English courts’ decision in 1850 to use “he” as a gender inclusive term, as well as the hundreds of other terms used “thon”, “hiser”, “per”, “de”, “hir”, “se”, “shey”, “un”… and so many others.
Gillman provides a complex and powerful narrative about gendered pronouns, inviting their readers to ask themselves about their resistance to the use of the singular “They” pronoun. Gillman has provided a timely resource for those of us who are nonbinary to explain the history of our pronouns and confront the tide of people telling us that our pronouns are “incorrect”.
To find out more about We’re Still Here, visit Stacked Deck Press’ website at https://stackeddeckpress.com/product/were-still-here-an-all-trans-comics-anthology/
To find out more about Melanie Gillman, visit their website at http://www.melaniegillman.com