It has always annoyed me that the English tongue lacks a nice, neat Anglo-Saxon word like ‘man’ and ‘woman’ for those of us who are quite certain that they are neither of the aforementioned two. The vocabulary that does exist is either too clinical — ‘non-binary person’α — too demeaning — ‘enby’, god forbid anyone ever calls me that again — or overconfident that we’ll remain outcasts forever, like ‘genderqueer’. (Mind, i do find that last one to be the least worst of them. It has a nice ring to it.)
Most attempts to fill the void smack of what i can only call a distinctive coinage-ness. They feel like they were coined yesterday to fill a gap, not like a regular word, passed down from the language from generation to generation. But hƿæt! I’ve been toiling in the neologism forges for the past several weeks, and after fruitlessly attempting to derive something from various Middle and Old English rootsβ, a flash of inspiration hit me while i was falling asleep.
The word that hit me, half-awake, was ha’man (like ‘ha’penny’), rhyming with ‘layman’ (or ‘barman’γ, if you’d like). Us folk — us ha’men — live a life of halves; halfway between the set two types to which everyone expects us to rigidly conform, halfway toward full acceptance, torn between the many parts of our internal being.
You don’t have to like it. Maybe you think the apostrophe is ungainly. Maybe you don’t like that it ends in ‘man’, however unstressed that A may be. Maybe you’re insulted by its derivation from a word for ‘half’. Maybe you don’t like its resemblance to the name of a particularly nasty Persian vizier. All perfectly valid reasons.
That’s okay, though; i’d almost prefer you not be too fond of it. The last thing i’d want is for this quaint little word i created mostly to describe myself to become a great splitting point, just another chapter in the endless bubble of internet toil and trouble. I’m at peace with the fact that the only person who’ll ever call themself a ha’man is probably me… but, hey. It’s nice to have a word for it. (And maybe it’ll get people to stop calling me a fucking ‘enby’ for once!)