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Swedish church group offers choice of three genders

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 24 Feb 2010, 15:05

Published: 24 Feb 2010 15:05 GMT+01:00

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The study association, which runs courses in a range of disciplines for more than 350,000 Swedes, has decided to introduce a third alternative in its standard online application form.

"It is a question of letting you as an individual decide for yourself how you want to be defined. Or if you turn it around, you should not have to have one role privately and another as an employee," explained Johan Welander at Sensus to Church of Sweden newspaper, Kyrkans Tidning.

Applicants can now choose between Kvinna (woman), Man or Hen, a gender-neutral pronoun and alternative to the Swedish Hon (She) and Han (He).

Hen is a gender-neutral pronoun that has long been in circulation as an alternative to get round problems that sometimes arise when talking about people in the third person. It is also used by many within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) movement for people who do not wish to conform to the prevailing two gender norm.

The word does not feature however as a pronoun or definition of a gender in dictionaries of the Swedish language.

The Language Council of Sweden - the official language cultivation body and publisher of an annual "New Swedish Words" list - recommends the use of the pronoun Den (It) or Man (One) for the third person.

"It is difficult to change the use of words that are as deep-rooted and commonly used words as personal pronouns. It is much easier to add a new adjective, for example," a spokesperson at the council told The Local.

"I am not aware of whether the use of Hen is being encourage by the council. But if people start to use the term then it is a Swedish word - that is how language develops."

Malinda Flodman, press spokesperson at The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights for Sexuality Education (Riksförbundet för sexuell upplysning – RFSU) told The Local on Wednesday that it was not currently an issue that the rights group is taking a stand on.

Story continues below…

"It is a word that that is used by many who do not feel that they fit into any of the current alternatives, or just think that gender is irrelevant in a context," Flodman said.

While the Federation is not actively working to broaden its use, Flodman said that more linguistic alternatives are always useful.

"Hen is a practical alternative to avoid having to write around it, but I don't know how broadly it is used; it is perhaps more common among younger people."

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:33 February 24, 2010 by zircon
My Gender: Executive ME and only ME.
17:02 February 24, 2010 by Thebinary1
They should have changed it to something as follows:

First Name: _________

Last Name: __________

Sex: Male Female Yes Please!
18:05 February 24, 2010 by glamelixir
ok, welcome to science. Just let them know that "others" have a name and it's xxy hermafrodite.
19:05 February 24, 2010 by livinginsweden
Isn't it simpler just to take out the gender section... ... since the gender has nothing to do with qualification for employment except discrimination.

It is so stupid that in a country where we have equality of employment .... to then ask a person which gender he or she or xxx is.

stupid is as stupid does

ha ha
21:19 February 24, 2010 by diegoveggie
its gonna go like this





22:10 February 24, 2010 by Alex Coman
Sensus, a Swedish church-backed study association...

What kind of church is that?

This is stupidity in the purest form I've ever seen. Why must the church be involved in that?


Man, I strongly believe it is about those who change their sex by surgery. Or about those who take hormones. Or crossdressers. Women trapped in males bodies. :)

The real xxy hermafrodite are so few amongst them.
00:58 February 25, 2010 by zircon
Please, do go on.
01:53 February 25, 2010 by Da Goat
So one can be a Male, Female or Chicken I love It!
03:12 February 25, 2010 by Davey-jo
Would the other be drunken bishop, by any chance?
08:01 February 25, 2010 by johnnyrebel
glamelixir @ Alex...dont forget eunochs.
11:38 February 25, 2010 by Bettyinsweden
I agree with livinginsweden. Gender has nothing to do with anything. We need to stop playing rolls "assigned" to us.
12:20 February 25, 2010 by Audrian
What does this decision mean for sports, particularly if it receives a wide acceptance. A south African person of cross gender participated in 8000 meter dash for woman and won the gold medal decisively a few months ago here in Europe. It caused an uproar. At birth she was classified as a girl by the doctor who assisted the delivery. Even though she does not have male sex organ, she has male chromosomes.
12:24 February 25, 2010 by zircon
Play: the other a hybrid electric homo sapiens.
15:09 February 25, 2010 by 2394040
I'm sure that Eli, the vampire in the Swedish movie "Let The Right One In", would approve of this decision.:):):):)
23:26 February 25, 2010 by Alex Coman
On the other hand, I saw a lot of women acting like soviet soldiers. Are they really women?

And I m not talking about my german origin wife here... :(
15:19 February 26, 2010 by Hermlover
It's a pity that the level of discussion here amongst my fellow English speaking, Swedish living compadres is so low. As a person who is one of those considered, 'very rare', I welcome this option. There are more than 600 known intersex variations. Intersex is the word that has basically replaced 'hermaphrodite' and one can be chromosomally XX, XY, XXY or XX XO like myself. Since most of us don't know what our chromosomes are and not all intersex variations are noticable at birth there is no way of knowing exactly how many people fall within the intersex spectrum. I for one will be campaigning to have an O designation when I apply for my Swedish passport next year!

Del LaGrace Volcano

official spokesperson in Sweden for OII

(Organization Intersex International)
21:26 February 26, 2010 by Alex Coman

Man (ups, sorry) I hope you not take my posts personally. I don t want to offend you.

As an "official spokesperson in Sweden for OII" you must be ready to block all attacks. You are an official, act like one!

I m sure you have a good sense of humor, while your stage name is "Del LaGrace Volcano".

"There are more than 600 known intersex variations"- don t say this to that church, they ll fight for every gender and the results will be, maybe, a 600 entrances at the toilet. Whatta surrealist picture!!!
06:24 February 27, 2010 by JDV
"Man, I strongly believe it is about those who change their sex by surgery. Or about those who take hormones. Or crossdressers. Women trapped in males bodies. :)

The real xxy hermafrodite are so few amongst them."

Alex and the rest…

Yes... it is about those individuals and not necessarily or primarily about xxy.

Individuals who have the natural, normal, inborn Capacity for Opposite Sex Identification and Expression (aka COSIEs or transgender if you will), have been an advanced part of human genome for some time. It may even be an evolutionary advancement in terms of the human evolutionary trend towards greater, more complex and more sophisticated empathic abilities. In many other cultures in the past and even today they were and are actually cherished as people of great power and spiritual insight just because they were the people of two spirits.

The total discrimination, plus the extreme physical, mental and social abuse in our society, against these unique individuals, must and should be redressed with the force of law. I applaud the work of SENSUS as a small step in addressing the issue, it could do more, which is what an advanced religious organization should be doing, leading the way to greater understanding and acceptance of all human beings.

PS: Livinginsweden: The reason these categories are necessary on forms is to create a paper trail and to provide evidence statistical and otherwise of discrimination and abuse.
13:22 February 27, 2010 by Alex Coman

"The total discrimination, plus the extreme physical, mental and social abuse in our society, against these unique individuals, must and should be redressed with the force of law."


Id say all kind of discrimination, and not extreme, but any physical mental or social abuse against these individuals must be redressed by the force of law. Because their are people like you and me, with all kind of problems. A lot of. If some of them are like this because they has mental health problems, it is our duty to help and protect them.

Otherwise, I refuse to admit their identity problem has to become my problem. If they have a social incapacity, they must admit it. Being too different MAY has that meaning. Incapacity.

But, but, how can you say: advanced religious whatever... :)

Are you trying to be funny?

"In many other cultures in the past and even today..." Man, err, sorry, Person, cannibalism, in many cultures was a great thing. Ok, is too much to compare that way, but your example is not a good one too.

I am sorry if someone feels insulted by what I say, ok?
14:39 February 27, 2010 by MichaelZWilliamson
Job Applied for: _________

Education: ___________

Qualifications: _________

Work history: _________

References: _________

And done:-)
18:12 February 27, 2010 by JDV

We are not talking about cannibalism we are talking about the severe and potentially dangerous mental illness of intolerance for others who are different you. For you to need to make such a comparison is inaccurate and insulting you knew that when you wrote and tried to gloss over it passive aggressive way by admitting that it is "to much" but leaving it in.

They don't actually have an identitiy problem, they know very well who they are and what it means to deal with the mental illness of others, who are not secure enough in ther own sexual identities not to feel threatened and socially challenged by those with this positive expanded human empathic Capacity for Opposite Sex Identity and Expression.

So it is not about to protecting them because they are different, but because people who are mentally ill by way of their intolerance tend to act out their illness in ways that can be subtle, mean spirited and and often times violent in their denial of otheres their god given human rights to an existance free from the predjudical hositle actions of others.

If you and others are insulted by this concept… then so be it.
11:55 February 28, 2010 by Alex Coman
Do I see a little hysteria here?

A little dilemma: what can a man do, as your lover, if you want, as a part of your special needs, a little violence from your partner?

If he loves you, he must give you what you want but that means you re with a man with no regard/respect for your complex group or minority.



No criminal record???
10:41 March 7, 2010 by johnnyrebel
JDV...In many other cultures in the past and even today they were and are actually cherished as people of great power and spiritual insight just because they were the people of two spirits.

Fascinating point.
11:08 June 6, 2010 by geekgirl

Kudos to you comrade. I'm an OII member too. I was just going to comment before I read your good words, and I couldn't have put it succinctly any better than you did. :)


Thank you! All good karma points/power to you...
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