Books

Legendary author Neil Gaiman schools trolls on they/them pronouns after anti-trans ‘self-own’

Maggie Baska December 13, 2021
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Neil Gaiman attends the global premiere of "Good Omens" in a black and white suit with a black bow tie

Neil Gaiman attends the Global premiere of Amazon Original "Good Omens" at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on 28 May 2019 in London, England. (Mike Marsland/WireImage)

Renowned fantasy author Neil Gaiman has come out swinging for they/them pronouns in response to a hilarious anti-trans “self-own”.

The English author is world-renowned for novels including Stardust, American Gods, Coraline and The Graveyard Book and is a steadfast supporter of the trans community. Last year, he joined over 1,800 top literary figures in pledging his support for trans and non-binary people.

Gaiman affirmed his allyship on Monday (13 December) by responding to a hilarious screenshot shared by Conservative Self-Owns, a mocking Twitter account that calls out right-wingers who unintentionally embarrass themselves online.

The Twitter account shared a post from a social media user that claimed: “Any English teacher who uses ‘they/them’ as a singular pronoun should lose their license.”

The poster highlighted the irony of the original comment by underlining the singular noun, “teacher”, and use of the singular pronoun “their” them.

In a wonderful mic-drop moment, the Good Omens co-author shared the tweet alongside the comment: “That’s beautiful.”

Dear readers, Gaiman did not stop there. He also doubled down on his support for pronoun inclusivity after one person on Twitter decided to play “devil’s advocate” in his comments section.

The person tried to argue that the “context is different” and the singular pronoun their acted as a “stand in because the sex/gender of the subject is unknown”.

However, Gaiman wasn’t standing for the argument.

“‘Their’ as a singular pronoun goes back to the 1300s…” Gaiman wrote.

A quick Google search can reveal that singular they/them pronouns aren’t new and are, in fact, centuries-old. The Oxford English Dictionary, the principal historical dictionary of the English language, traced the first use of the singular they to a medieval romance from 1375.

Still not backing down, Gaiman also offered a straight-up English lesson to another commenter who attempted to argue that the anti-trans ‘self-own’ was referring to “multiples”.

The commenter believed that ‘any teacher’ could refer to a profession, and the use of “their” could refer to the “participants in profession”.

“‘Any English teacher’ is singular. ‘Any English teachers’ would be plural,” Gaiman responded.

This is not the first time that Neil Gaiman has shown his diehard support for trans and non-binary people.

In August, he spoke out in support when Rhianna Pratchett, the daughter of his longtime friend and collaborating author Terry Pratchett, was forced shut down so-called “gender critical” bigots trying to claim her father would be anti-trans if he was alive today.

Gaiman, who co-authored Good Omens with Pratchett, shared in a tweet that his friend was a “wise” and “kind” person who “understood that people were complicated, contradictory and, always people, and that people can and do change”.

He added that, as Rhianna Pratchett had previously stated, the legendary Discworld author would have “had no time for this nonsense”.

Gaiman also cited three of Pratchett’s works – Equal Rites, Monstrous Regiment and Feet of Clay – for their strong trans themes.

The author also defended the casting of non-binary and Black actors in the Netflix adaption of his comic-book series The Sandman earlier this year.

Some fans online raged about the news that non-binary actor Mason Alexander Park will play the non-binary character Desire and The Good Place actor Kirby Howell-Baptiste, who is Black, will play the character Death.

One person accused Gaiman of “not giving a f**k” to which the author declared on Twitter that he actually gives “all the f**ks about the work”.

“I spent 30 years successfully battling bad movies of Sandman,” Gaiman wrote. “I give zero f**ks about people who don’t understand/haven’t read Sandman whining about a non-binary Desire or that Death isn’t white enough.”

He added that fans should “watch the show” and make up their minds about the Netflix adaptation.

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