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Androgyne of the Archeart, phlog edition

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Queer Etymology: Enby

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This post was initially published on Androgyne of the Archeart on
16 December 2019 and republished on 20 September 2020. It can be found on the
web at https://blog.sixy.name/2020/09/20/queer-etymology-enby/
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
There's a lot of misinformation about various LGBT/Queer terms, especially when
it comes to neologisms coined on social media where the origin may not be well-
documented. For this post, I'm going to address the etymology of the word 'enby'
and the misconceptions around it.
The context of this post is that within the last few months I have become aware
of discussions around the term 'enby' and the initialism it is derived from: NB.
Due to NB being an initialism also used in discussions of race to mean non-
Black, some people of color have asked that people not use the initialism to
mean nonbinary. A lot of people in these discussions have made the claim that
the word 'enby' was coined by nonbinary people of color as an alternative to the
initialism. This claim is false in all respects.
This September 2013 post[1], originally from Tumblr user revolutionator[note] is
the origin of the term
> i wish there was an nb equivalent to words like boys and girls
>
> nb
>
> enby
>
> enbies
'Enby' is literally just intended as a nonbinary equivalent to 'boy' and 'girl',
and the discussion of initialism collision with 'non-Black' came years later as
far as I can tell. And as many nonbinary people have brought up, the term can be
quite infantilizing [see 2021 addendum] and should not be used for people who
don't use it for themself.
As for the other part of the false claim, that it was coined by a person of
color, I'll let this (partially redacted for privacy on a locked account)
screenshot of the coiner's Twitter profile say all that needs to be said about
that:
[twitter.png]
[Image description]
Screenshot of someone's Twitter bio that says:
vector/nonbin/29/white. coined "enby" lol. love ghosts and my friends.
[japanese text not able to be copypasted from image]. nb lesbian married2cat.
im british i just live in america
[End image description]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: The link is to a Wayback archive of a reblog by Tumblr user faunmoss from
6 years ago as of this writing in 2019. The original post itself is on a blog
that Vector last posted to in 2015, with a large string of numbers as the
current username and behind the post-2018 NSFW filter, which breaks links to
direct posts outside the mobile app. Reblogging to drafts from mobile and
checking the timestamp with Xkit shows the OP was posted on 10 September 2013:
[tumblr.png]
[Image description]
Screenshot of the quoted revolutionator post. The displayed username is
02348294832908091 and the timestamp says it was posted on September 10th 2013
[End image description]
[1]: https://web.archive.org/web/20191201064221/https://faunmoss.tumblr.com/post/61760779664/revolutionator-i-wish-there-was-an-nb
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2021 Addendum: A couple years later, I'm not really happy with how I phrased
this. While 'enby' can be infantilizing, it's no more so than the words it was
coined as an analogue of (i.e. 'boy' and 'girl').

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