Hen

As the first language in the world, Swedish now has two gendered personal pronouns in third person singular (she, he) as well as a gender-neutral pronoun which exists parallel with these (hen). As early as 1966, Rolf Dunås suggested in a column in Uppsala Nya Tidning that the Swedish language should introduce a gender-neutral third person pronoun – hen – inspired by the Finish language’s already existing gender-neutral pronoun – hän. In 1994 the word was spoken about again, this time in Svenska Dagbladet by linguist Hans Karlgren. However, it took until the beginning of 2010s before the word gained a proper footing in the Swedish language. Hen was included in the glossary of the Swedish language by the Swedish Academy in 2015, and the fourteenth edition was launched with the slogan “Hen is here now”.

Hen can be used in several different ways, and the usage opens up for different interpretations about who hen is. Hen could either be used as a generic pronoun, referring to a person whose gender is unknown or kept anonymous, and can also refer to a person with a non-binary gender identity, meaning a person who identify between or beyond the traditional dichotomy of woman/man.