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Ant Given Scientific Name Ending in 'They' for the Sake of Being 'Inclusive'

Carl Rettenmeyer/University of Connecticut via AP

We're getting a glimpse into how far reaching gender pronoun debates have permeated society now that a new ant species has been given the scientific name of Strumigenys ayersthey, as Jane Dalton with the Independent reported. Species named after women end in "ae" and those named after men end in "i."


Such was very much a conscious and serious move, one which looks to be setting the stage for future species to be named according to these standards. REM's Michael Stope and Yale's Dr. Booher had Jeremy Ayers in mind, who was also part of REM. 

As Dalton reported:

“In contrast to the traditional naming practices that identify individuals as one of two distinct genders, we have chosen a non-Latinised portmanteau honouring the artist Jeremy Ayers and representing people that do not identify with conventional binary gender assignments – Strumigenys ayersthey,” Stipe and Dr Booher said.

“The ‘they’ recognises non-binary gender identifiers in order to reflect recent evolution in English pronoun use – ‘they, them, their’ – and address a more inclusive and expansive understanding of gender identification.”

Dr Booher said: “Such a beautiful and rare animal was just the species to celebrate both biological and human diversity.


Celebrating diversity is one thing, but letting it impact scientific names is another, especially when there is no indication that the ant species itself is non-binary. The diversity seems to be in thought, then, rather than in biology. "Small changes in language have had a large impact on culture. Language is dynamic and so should be the change in naming species – a basic language of science," added Dr. Booher. 

This is only one of many examples of how far the pronoun matter has spun out of control. Last month, I reported on how the New York Times' Ezra Marcus wrote a 2,000 piece on the neopronouns some people are using, meaning they identify with animal or other non-human pronouns. 

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