Neuter

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Neuter
Related identities Agender and Neutrois
Under the umbrella term Transgender


Neuter is a long-established word for a sex or gender outside of the gender binary. Various dictionaries generally give it these two relevant definitions, among others:

1. A gender neither masculine nor feminine. Genderless. Gender neutral. An androgynous person.

2. Without sexual organs, or with incomplete sexual organs. In biology and zoology, this can mean animals that were artificially spayed, castrated, or otherwise sterilized, as well as animals who were normally born in that condition, such as worker bees. In botany, neuter can mean plants without pistils and stamens.[1][2][3]

Although the word "neuter" has existed in English with these meanings for hundreds of years, surveys show that it hasn't been common for contemporary nonbinary people to call themselves neuter.[4] However, neuter was mentioned as one of many valid nonbinary identities in the 2013 text Sexuality and Gender for Mental Health Professionals: A Practical Guide.[5]

Related terms[edit | edit source]

  • FTN. In some queer communities, this has meant female-to-neuter (or neutrois) transsexual (or transgender), as a counterpart to more widely-used terms, FTM (female-to-male, meaning a trans man, or someone on the trans-masculine spectrum) and MTF (male-to-female, meaning a trans woman, or someone on the trans-feminine spectrum).[6]
  • MTN. Male-to-neuter (or neutrois) transsexual (or transgender).[6]

Notable neuter people[edit | edit source]

Claude Cahun, a neuter artist and anti-fascist.

See main article: Notable nonbinary people

There are many more notable people who have a gender identity outside of the binary. The following are only some of those notable people who specifically use the word "neuter" for themselves.

  • Claude Cahun (1894 - 1954) was a surrealist artist and a resistance worker against the Nazi occupation of France in WWII. In Cahun's autobiography, Disavowals, they explained, “Masculine? Feminine? It depends on the situation. Neuter is the only gender that always suits me.”[7]
  • Autistic activist and intersex person Jim Sinclair (1940 - ) has said they are "proudly neuter, both physically and socially."[8] In 1993 Sinclair wrote the essay, "Don't Mourn for Us", articulating an anti-cure perspective on autism.[9] The essay has been thought of as a touchstone for the fledgling autism-rights movement, and has been mentioned in The New York Times[10] and New York Magazine.[11]

Neuter characters in fiction[edit | edit source]

See main article: Nonbinary gender in fiction

There are many more nonbinary characters in fiction who have a gender identity outside of the binary. The following are only some of those characters who are specifically called by the word "neuter," either in their canon, or by their creators.

  • In the book Surface Detail, the character Yime Nsokyi is "neuter-gendered" and has an intersex body by choice.
  • M. C. A. Hogarth's science-fiction series about the Jokka, an alien species that can randomly change sex twice at puberty, with three sexes, and three corresponding gender roles: female, male, and neuter. The neuters can't reproduce, but since they're the least vulnerable to succumbing to "mind death" (a kind of stroke that afflicts any member of their species if they exert themselves too hard), their place in society is to do work that requires a hardy body and a good memory. Several main characters don't like the sexes they ended up with, and could be seen as transgender. The main character in the short story "Freedom, Spiced and Drunk" wishes to be neuter; details aren't possible without spoiling the story.
  • The Kyree, in Mercedes Lackey's World of Velgarth fantasy novel series, are an intelligent wolf-like people with three sexes: male, female, and neuter. Since neuter Kyree aren't obliged to take part in raising offspring, they're the ones who tend to go out into the world on adventures.

Please help expand this section.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Neuter." Merriam-Webster Dictionary. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/neuter
  2. "Neuther." Dictionary.com. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/neuter
  3. "Neuter." The Free Dictionary. https://www.thefreedictionary.com/neuter
  4. Gender Census 2019 - the public spreadsheet. 30 March 2019
  5. Richards, Christina; Barker, Meg (2013). Sexuality and Gender for Mental Health Professionals: A Practical Guide. SAGE Publications. ISBN 9781446293133.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "LGBTQ terms." Neutrois.com. [1]
  7. Cahun, C., Malherbe, S. (2008). Disavowals: Or, Cancelled Confessions. United States: MIT Press.
  8. Sinclair, Jim (1997). "Self-introduction to the Intersex Society of North America". Archived from the original on 7 February 2009.
  9. Sinclair, Jim (1993). "Don't mourn for us". Autreat. Retrieved 2014-08-11.
  10. Harmon, Amy (2004-12-20). "How About Not 'Curing' Us, Some Autistics Are Pleading". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
  11. Solomon, Andrew (2008-05-25). "The Autism Rights Movement". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2008-06-28.