The Final Protectors Chapter 16

On Amy and Pronouns

In the narrative, we are using the gender-neutral they/them to refer to Amy.
In the dialogue, spoken by the other characters, we are using he/him to refer to Amy.

However, we hope that this does not come across as transphobic on the part of our team. There are a few factors that affect our choice to do so, and hopefully, this post explains them.

It’s quite evident that Amy is a trans woman, however, through the novel, it is also clear that majority if not all the characters continue to treat her as a man, as such, he/him is used when Amy is referred to in dialogue. As this involves future chapters, not too much details will be given, but this treatment is of course, in part due to the other characters’ ignorance, but may be contributed by Amy’s own gender dysphoria (there is a future chapter wherein she discusses about her experiences with gender identity). Moreover, Amy does not quite correct the others when they refer to her as a man, and taking into account the aforementioned future chapter, Amy does not appear to fully reconcile with herself as a woman. As such, in the narrative of the story and in an attempt to be faithful to the narrative, it did not seem appropriate to translate her pronouns to she/her.

Now, you might ask, what was the original pronouns used for Amy in Chinese? How can we be sure that it was masculine pronouns?

The original Chinese pronouns used for Amy is “他”, the same pronoun used for Karlos, Leo, and other male characters. It is frequently used as a masculine pronoun, especially when contrasted with the 100% feminine pronoun that is “她”. Let’s get a little into history. Originally, “他” is not a strictly masculine pronoun. In fact, it was originally a gender-neutral pronoun, as seen from how its radical is the character for human (亻). In the early 20th century, as Western literature and ideas are further brought into China, the idea of feminine pronouns was conceived. People suggest replacing the human radical (亻) for the radical for woman (女) to form the current feminine pronoun, “她“. (However, it should be noted that the character “她“ existed prior to the 20th century, and was originally used with another meaning. That meaning fell into disuse, however.) Due to the existing feminine pronoun, it is natural that the originally gender-neutral “他” will generally be interpreted as masculine. However, it must be emphasized that in gender-neutral contexts, such as a character whom you are not supposed to know the gender of, “他” may still be used.

Hence, in the original text, Amy was not referred to with the feminine pronouns at all. You may think, ah, there’s a possibility that “他” takes on a gender-neutral meaning when referring to Amy. However, given the treatment of the character, and Amy’s own gender dysphoria, we think it’s not likely that was the meaning taken on. This is the reason why originally, we used he/him to refer to Amy even in the narrative voice. However, we find it extremely uncomfortable to refer to Amy with he/him, so we’ve decided to take advantage of this loophole and refer to her with gender-neutral pronouns instead.

Hopefully this clarifies any possible concerns regarding Amy’s pronouns.


FYI, as a little tidbit, in Chinese sites, particularly in informal contexts, there’s an increasing distinction between masculine, feminine and gender neutral pronouns. As explained, “他” is widely used as a masculine pronoun, and “她“ a feminine pronoun, but the gender-neutral meaning in “他” seem to be slowly eroding away. In its place, the roman alphabets “ta” is used as a gender-neutral equivalent, as it is the pinyin romanization of the phonologically indistinguishable Chinese third-person pronouns. Right now, “ta” seem to be kept strictly to informal contexts, however, with the increase in zero-translations and use of roman alphabets even in formal settings, it may be possible that “ta” could be incorporated into formal usage as well. It all depends on language change, really.

There’s an attempt to introduce a feminine second person pronoun as well, similarly by replacing the human radical with a female radical to produce “妳” in contrast with the usual “你”. However, this isn’t used that often, especially compared to the widespread popularity of the third person feminine pronoun.

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