Swedish Pronoun: Hen

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Identifying as non-binary can be difficult but Sweden has an official gender neutral pronoun: hen. It’s  similar to the use of singular “they” in English. It took inspiration from the neutral pronoun in the Finnish language (hän) and after much debate “hen” was officially adopted.

Its use is:
– for talking about someone who’s gender is unknown
– when the gender is unnecessary in the conversation
– for talking about someone who identifies as neither male nor female

It’s been used in various places in Sweden, some say since the 1960s, but was discussed in mainstream media in 2013 and eventually placed into the official Swedish dictionary in 2015.

It has two main uses in Sweden. The first is, obviously, for LGBT+ groups but the second is interesting. Some schools and pre-schools have started using “hen” for their pupils so as not to push gender roles or identities on their students.

First studies suggest that the use of “hen” in early education doesn’t reduce children’s tendency to use gender to categorise people but it reduces their tendency to gender-stereotype and gender-segregate.

The use of hen is the same and just as simple as han (he) or hon (she), for exmaple “hen är vacker” – “they are beautiful”.

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Raised Without Gender

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A new documentary heads to Sweden, home to gender neutral kindergartens and gender non-conforming families, to find out what it’s like to grow up beyond the binary.

With recent victories for the trans rights movement, and more young people defining as something other than “male” or “female” than ever before, Amelia Abraham visits Sweden – arguably the world’s most forward-thinking country when it comes to questioning gender – to find out what it’s like to grow up without the gender binary.

In Sweden, the gender neutral pronoun “hen” has been in the national dictionary since 2015 and is now commonly used by most Swedes. Since 1998, the Swedish government’s school plan has forbidden enforcing gender stereotypes, and government-funded gender neutral kindergartens with gender aware teachers has made it possible for families to raise their children without a set gender identity – something that often sparks controversy in the foreign press.

Amelia spends time with one of these gender non-conforming families, made up of mapa (mum and dad) Del LaGrace Volcano, who was born intersex (both male and female); the children, five-year-old Mika and three-year-old Nico, and their grandma, Margareta. She visits Mika and Nico’s gender aware kindergarten to find out what the teachers and the other kids make of Mika’s gender expression. She also meets Lotta Rajalin, the founder of Sweden’s gender-neutral kindergartens, to learn how they go about deleting gender norms from education, as well as psychiatrist Dr Eberhard, who is against Sweden’s attitude to gender in kindergartens.

Reel

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It is the last day before Victor and his parents are moving to another city. So he and his best friend Robert do all the things they liked to do together so much: skateboarding, spraying, hanging out. But something is different this time, there is something much more than just a friendship. Immersed in childhood memories, this film explores emotional and sexual boundaries between two best friends.

Submitted by Kimmo

Hej, Daniel

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If you want to watch this video, you have two options: Either you go and learn Swedish (very melodic language, can recommend!) or you just focus on watching a pretty cute babygay doing… stuff. However you decide, enjoy! And check out his channel, he has loads of videos and most of them have a lot of his pretty face in it and sometimes he’s singing.

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Wildest Dreams

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This wild dream below is a Swedish one. He doesn’t only have a nice voice and cute face it’s also kinda fun to see him grow into a fierce baby queer through his YouTube and Instagram. Those clickbait video thumbs [Slightly NSFW] though…

Video submitted by teatime

Something Must Break

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The journey of a suicidal transgender teen in small-town Sweden swerves between striking and meandering in this impressive drama. What’s most consistent is the compelling lead performance from newcomer Saga Becker, who stars as Sebastian/Ellie, a waif whose need for sex and love leads to a dysfunctional affair. The object of her desire is a boy whose confused sexuality threatens to destroy the budding relationship.

The film’s bittersweet take on young love is familiar, but the gender-related difficulties add something fresher, and Becker has an undeniable screen presence. Director Ester Martin Bergsmark’s slight film works best as a character study focused almost exclusively on the lead. There’s a grubby ugliness – from transphobic violence to an obsession with urine – and a garish style that leaves an impression, although too much repetition holds it back.

The Guardian

You can watch the whole film on Vimeo–if you speak either Swedish or Spanish. I’ll try to find an English version and link it here when I do.

Something Must Break (Original Title: Nånting måste gå sönder)
Release: 2014, Sweden | IMDb | Website

Lucky Blue

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Olle, an introverted, well-mannered boy with an air of innocence and sincerity about him has been camping with his father at the same camping ground with several other people for years now. A sort of tradition that ends in a karaoke party.

Then one summer, a family friend brings her reticent ‘city boy’ nephew, Kevin, and his pet budgerigar. Olle accidentally releases the bird and what follows is a discovery of friendship and love between the guy who has grown up in a loving environment and simply accepts love for what it is and the guy who’s apparently been burned too many times in his own circle to feel comfortable with it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sP9_LlbzIbs

Western Tolerance?

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When Westerners talk about the differences between them and people  from other countries some topics seem to come up almost always. The tolerance of the Western world for example  is something we just love to brag about. But how tolerant are we really? The Get Data blog took a look at the numbers from an American perspective.

Where does the American Public Stand on Racism?

The World Values Survey is an association of social scientists from around the world that gather data on human values, political and social life, as well as a host of other social statistics.  Using the WVS data, we’ll present a brief analysis of tolerance, racism and xenophobia in the Western world.

The below figure shows the number of respondents by country that affirm the following positions. All questions began with, ‘Would not like to have as neighbours:’ and ends with the y-axis category.  For example the first survey question was, ‘Would not like to have as neighbours: Different Race’ and 5.6% of American affirmed with this statement.

tolerance01

Even within the Western world huge differences between neighbouring countries can be observed. While only 3.5% of the respondents from Sweden had a negative view on immigrants, 21.5% of Germans did.

Tolerance towards Homosexuality in the US

As we can see in the below figures, which again uses WVS data, the United States ranks among the most tolerant countries towards homosexuality.   Still, more than 24%, almost a quarter, of Americans believe homosexuality is never justifiable and only 21.5% believe homosexuality is always justifiable with similarly low numbers found in countries like Germany compared to 60% of Swedes.