A lot of work I've been doing recently has been around the emergence of various gender identities. "Neutrois" recently came to my attention, with more information about it here:

Most (if not all) of these sources claim that a person by the name of H. A. Burnham coined the term to refer to hirself (preferred pronoun) in 1995.

However, the earliest source I could find on this was an archived version of Neutrois.com (then known as Neutrois Outpost) from 30 August 2000. The earliest archived version of the FAQ that states Burnham's coinage is from 7 March 2001.

I've checked HathiTrust, Google Books, and Newspapers.com so far and can't seem to find anything, so any pointers to sources to check would be very much appreciated! Additionally, any info on who Burnham was/is would be great too! I'd love to give credit where credit is due!

EDIT 1: So it seems that "H. A. Burnham" is "Holly A. Burnham" based on some Usenet posts in alt.transgendered. The earliest attribution I can find seems to be December 1996 though...

  • I was wondering the same thing, looking at usenets was a smart idea. I find the earliest mention so far around the same time on soc.support.transgendered: groups.google.com/g/soc.support.transgendered/c/ckLke9K-WtU/m/… . I going to look into other transgender usenets. Apr 2, 2021 at 21:28
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    I also find a user name "Holly A. Burnham" from around 1995, but not on any trans usenets: groups.google.com/u/2/search/… . Apr 2, 2021 at 22:10
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    Words almost always get coined in speech, not published work, so the earliest published attribution of "neutrois" might be from December '96. Burnham could easily have coined it and been using it to describe hirself a year or so before then, the information she coined it in '95 likely coming from hir, which there'd be no reason to doubt since sie's the expert on hirself. Also, remember the Internet was still embryonic in '95. Back then, anything and everything wasn't put on the Internet. Nearly nothing was. So if there is a '95 publication of "neutrois," it's most likely on <gasp> paper. May 4, 2021 at 6:25
  • @BenjaminHarman. "Words almost always get coined in speech, not published work". Would you have reference to support your comment? May 28, 2021 at 22:48
  • I don't see how a direct answer to this question is possible without stretching the procedures of ELU. It has not been taken up by all English dictionaries (it's absent from Cambridge) and is not widely known or used. Derived from French neutre (neither) and trois, it is uncomfortable on the English-speaking palate, always a barrier to a word's adoption. Worse, this word has overtones of 'inanimate', its literal meaning. Would a better path be the Latin, 'tertius' for 'third': so would not 'tertial' and 'tertiality' be clear, pronounceable and non-offensive?
    – Tuffy
    Jan 24 at 19:42


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