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  • CzechOut
    CzechOut closed this thread because:
    Closed as per rationale in final post.
    00:43, January 16, 2019

    Disclaimer: Forgive me if any of the topics discussed here may be deemed offensive. I do not intend to make light of any issues that may affect some people in real life. This is purely a discussion about the use of pronouns as they apply to specific fictional characters, so let’s please not get too political about this issue.

    So I was reading some articles, and I’ve noticed a few of them have starting referring to the Doctor and other Time Lords that have had cross-sex regenerations as “they/their/them.” What’s the deal with that? It’s even being used to refer to events that have a defined gender, when he was only male, like on the “Barn (The Day of the Doctor)” page, when it says “they” visited the barn in four incarnations, but each of those incarnations was male, so I have since changed it to male pronouns.

    One major problem with doing this is that the grammar is honestly pretty painful. I began reading the Doctor's page, and I took particular notice of the third paragraph. It is as follows: "For their actions, the Time Lords granted the Doctor a new regeneration cycle, allowing them to live on after using up all available regenerations in their first cycle." That usage is so ambiguous. By the rules of the English language, "their actions" would have to be referring to the Time Lords, yet we're honestly expecting regular people to be able to immediately understand what the heck that is referring to? It's just so needlessly over-complicating things with this method of pronoun use for Time Lords.

    That does, however, seem to be an instance in which I could fairly change all those pronouns to male, anyway, since those events are all specifically referring to things that happened to male Doctors, just as with the Barn article. But my point was to bring that excellent example up because I'm sure there are plenty of other cases like that that might supposed to be referring to the Doctor in a more general way, too, but are instead just confusing. And this becomes even more of an issue if you want have consistency, because then all Time Lords - even the ones that we have only known to be one sex - must be referred to as “they” always, as well.

    Regardless, the Doctor is a male Time Lord. He just happens to have one female regeneration. It has been established in the show that there is a norm when it comes to sex with each Time Lord’s regenerations, but very occasionally one will swap sexes as an anomaly. The Doctor = male at birth + 12 or 13 male regenerations + 1 female. The Master, too, has always been male except for one time, when he became Missy. And then there’s the General, who establishes that she had always been female except for that one incarnation and that she was “back to normal” after that when she became female again. So, considering “they” is grammatically incorrect, anyway, it seems to make more sense to go with what the show itself already suggests: stick to using the pronouns that are appropriate to each specific incarnation, but not forgetting on a whole that just as the General is a female Time Lord with one anomalous male regeneration, the Doctor is so far a male Time Lord with one anomalous female regeneration. Meaning it is appropriate to refer to each in a broader sense as “she” and “he,” respectively. And until a much greater percentage of the Doctor’s regenerations are female, it seems unnecessary to confuse things by sticking the “they” in there, too, ESPECIALLY and AT LEAST when referring to incarnations that were indisputably male, as with my example from the Barn article.

    I completely understand where those who advocate for the “they” pronouns are coming from, but that’s not how the show itself seems to treat the issue, and shouldn’t that be the #1 guideline to go by? The show establishes a gender norm, with the exceptions being just that - exceptions. So naturally, the Doctor would be a “he” (except for when he is a “she”).

    The whole cannot be defined by its anomalous exceptions. So why aren’t we referring to these Time Lords just with their standard pronouns except for in the special cases in which those no longer apply, instead of just needlessly covering it all with the awkward “they”?

      Establishing interface with the TARDIS
    • I completely understand where those who advocate for the “they” pronouns are coming from, but that’s not how the show itself seems to treat the issue, and shouldn’t that be the #1 guideline to go by?

      I could not agree more. On top of the fact you raise that Time Lords seem to have one default gender (the one they have at birth) and then the occasional nonstandard regeneration, this seems to be the damning bit of evidence.

      Whenever the Doctor refers to Time Lords who have changed genders, and I mean refers to them in general, across regenerations, he goes back and forth between "he" and "she", favoring what seems to be the "default" gender. When talking about the Corsair:

      The Corsair, fantastic bloke! (…) Didn't feel like himself unless he had the tattoo… or herself, a couple of times — woo-hoo, she was bad girl!--

      he generally talks about the Corsair with male pronouns, then switches to "she" and "her" when specifically talking about the Corsair's two or three female incarnations.

      And when discussing the Master/Missy in that infamous scene in World Enough for Time

      She was my first friend, always so brilliant… since the first day at the Academy… so fast, so funny! She was my man-crush.

      We had a pact, me and him — every star in the universe, we were going to see them all. But he was too busy burning them… I don't think she ever saw anything.

      when referring to the Master's young self at the Academy, and then to his later, "star-burning" incarnations, all of whom were male, the Doctor uses "he"; yet even inside of a single sentence, when he's talking about the Master today, as Missy, he switches to "she". ("He"" was too busy burning them… I don't think she ever really saw anything": the Master across his past, globally-male selves was busy burning stars; the current, female Mistress hasn't seen anything yet as it stands).

      So yeah. Greatly support this proposal. Referring to the Doctor, the Master, the General or the Corsair as "they" is simply not a good idea, especially not when older sources (now disregarded by the main TV series, but valid as far as Tardis Data Core’s concerned) went even further with the "Time Lords have a baseline gender" idea and stated they could only regenerate to change gender in extraordinary circumstances such as suicide. (EDIT: I'm informed this was only ever in an Unbound story. The wider point still stands, though.)

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    • I’ll just say this. The concept of “Can only regenerate and change gender via that if you commit suicide” was only in Exile. An Unbound story, so it doesn’t really count.

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    • Could you please provide an in-universe confirmation that changing gender during a regeneration is an anomaly for Time Lords? I'm not sure I can remember anything of the sort.

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    • Amorkuz wrote: Could you please provide an in-universe confirmation that changing gender during a regeneration is an anomaly for Time Lords? I'm not sure I can remember anything of the sort.

      Neither I nor Game-Fanatic ever said that changing gender during regeneration as such was an anomaly, that I recall; what we said was that most Time Lords have a main gender that most of their regenerations adhere to, and then one or two incarnations that fall out of line.

      And I think there's plenty of evidence for that. The General's "back to normal" after she returns to being a woman, the Doctor's stunned (but enthusing) reaction at becoming a woman, the Doctor referring to the Corsair as a "bloke" first and foremost and then noting he was a she "a couple of times".

      But the other big point is that regardless, the show doesn't use "they" for Time Lords who have changed genders, even when discussing several incarnations at once in one conversation; the dialogue just goes back and forth being "he" and "she" forms. I've produced relevant quotes above.

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    • I guess I just highlight all the uses of the word "anomaly" (as well as claims that not changing the gender is the norm):

      Game-fanatic wrote: It has been established in the show that there is a norm when it comes to sex with each Time Lord’s regenerations, but very occasionally one will swap sexes as an anomaly. The Doctor = male at birth + 12 or 13 male regenerations + 1 female. The Master, too, has always been male except for one time, when he became Missy. And then there’s the General, who establishes that she had always been female except for that one incarnation and that she was “back to normal” after that when she became female again. So, considering “they” is grammatically incorrect, anyway, it seems to make more sense to go with what the show itself already suggests: stick to using the pronouns that are appropriate to each specific incarnation, but not forgetting on a whole that just as the General is a female Time Lord with one anomalous male regeneration, the Doctor is so far a male Time Lord with one anomalous female regeneration.

      [...]

      The show establishes a gender norm, with the exceptions being just that - exceptions. [...]

      The whole cannot be defined by its anomalous exceptions. So why aren’t we referring to these Time Lords just with their standard pronouns except for in the special cases in which those no longer apply, instead of just needlessly covering it all with the awkward “they”?

      So let us first establish whether there is any in-universe evidence for such strong claims of norms and anomalies regarding gender changes in the course of a regeneration.

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    • Er, that's what I was trying to say: we appear to interpret Game-fanatic's words differently. All these talks of "anomalies" and "exceptions" concern gender-crossing regenerations over a single individual's life.

      It does not claim that changing gender on a regeneration is anomalous among Time Lords, it means that an individual Time Lord's gender during his one or two gender-crossing regeneration will be considered anomalous to his overall self.

      And for that we have direct in-universe evidence, in, again, General Kenossium's comments post-regenerations in Hell Bent: "back to normal, am I?". If Kenossium considers that she has a "normal" gender (namely, female), it follows that her one male incarnation was abnormal — an exception that has no bearing on the fact that Kenossium sees him/herself as female in the absolute.

      But for the third time, this is only half of the argument, and even if you disagree with this part (though I think it's a pretty evident reading of the in-universe data), my above remarks concerning the fact that regardless of whether Time Lords have one baseline gender and a few anomalies, or just change randomly across regenerations, the fact is that no sources use "they" to refer to gender-crossing Time Lords — they just go back and forth between "he" and "she" as needed.

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    • Don't worry, there will be time to get to the other half of the argument. It is, however, important to decide based on a solid basis.

      All I can see so far from the example(s) provided is that one or two Time Lords considered a particular gender to be normal for them. Given the total number of Time Lords (one can guesstimate it from the number of children on Gallifrey at the moment of the end of the Time War, which was in the billions), there is, statistically speaking, almost no information about their views on gender change. The percentage of Time Lords who voiced their opinion on the subject is (almost) 0.

      Of course, if the Doctor (or another Time Lord) said something about all Time Lords rather than him/herself, that would be in-universe evidence. My question is whether any such general statement exists? So far I've only seen subjective statements about individual preferences. A reason to generalise from one General to all Time Lords is lacking.

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    • I see where you're coming from, but from my point of view, we have one bit of strong evidence and three bits of weak evidence for Time Lords having a default gender and then variations; and no statements at all for Time Lords not having a fixed gender. So while it's possible to construe our argument as speculation, yours is even moreso.

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    • Instead of repeating what I said before in another way, let me bring something new to the table. Specifically, a quote:

      Bill: So, Time Lords... a bit flexible on the whole man-woman thing, yeah?

      Doctor: We're the most civilised civilisation in the Universe. We're billions of years beyond your petty human obsession with gender and its associated stereotypes.World Enough and Time [src]

      Would you agree that this is a statement about the whole Time Lord civilisation, not some single cases?
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    • That is a good point. To be fair, being "a bit flexible on the man-woman thing" and being beyond "obsession" with genders are fairly vague statements that could still allow for the scenario Game-Fanatic and I derive from the other quotes. But I see what you mean. Let's wait and see what other people think.

      In the meantime, what do you make of that second half of my argument?

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    • Ok, as long as this thread does not establish some deep conclusions about an alleged baseline gender in Time Lord society, let us discuss the pronoun.

      First of all, there is, in my mind, zero problem referring to a specific incarnation by the gender of that incarnation. No reason to abandon doing that. The case of referring to several incarnations of the same gender is more subtle, but the simplest solution is, again, to use the common gender pronoun, given that it was the same person after all.

      The real question, for me, is referring to multiple incarnations of both genders. Note that this is not at all that common an occurrence. For instance, if Missy is talking about her lifelong feelings or interests, I would still consider the female pronoun appropriate. If Missy talks about herself, as you say, she is probably referring to herself as a she. So really I can only see a problem when a third person refers to an absent Time Lord who changed gender or when the reference specifically addresses multiple-gender incarnations.

      Unfortunately, given Tardis:Neutral point of view, much of what is written about the Doctor etc. must be written from the 3rd-person perspective (omniscient narrator) and from the point of view of the end of the universe. So no connection to a particular incarnation is possible. The neutrality and the randomness of the in-universe pronoun use, pointed out before, seemingly leave no choice other than a gender-neutral pronoun. No other choice would be neutral.

      If we are lucky, Chibnall may insert some dialogue in the upcoming series that would give an in-universe solution. But for now, the only neutral way without imposing artificial quantitative or qualitative value judgements is "they" or "it" and I strongly prefer "they".

      Finally, I would like to point out that "they" is not the cause of problems with clarity. One has exactly the same mess when five male characters have a scene together, making any attempt at using "he" problematic.

      After all, we only have four types of personal pronouns. Thus, by the pigeonhole principle, whenever five characters are discussed, at least two of them are going to be pronoun-confusable. Whatever is decided in this thread, good editing was, is and will remain the only solution to unclear prose.

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    • First, let me congratulate you on a long and well-put-together post. (The Internet needs more people being nice to each other, darnit!)

      In truth, I cannot say if this is what Game-Fanatic truly wanted (they seem to have dropped out of the conversation…), but here's what I think we ought to do: in cases referring to several incarnations of varied gender, do what the Doctor did when talking about the Corsair and say "he, or she" instead of saying "they". If "they" was the proper way to refer to gender-crossing Time Lords, one would expect the Doctor's above-quoted line to go something like "himself — well, themselves". Instead, Gaiman went with "himself… or herself, a couple of times".

      And I think (though of course, this is rather subjective, as is the concept of gender itself these days IRL) that there is a nuance between "he or she" and a singular "they". The latter is most at home when talking about a person of unknown gender, or a person whose gender does not fit the traditional male-vs-female distinction; it implies a gender-neutral or genderqueer character. "He or she" means precisely what it says, an individual who is, at times, a he, and, at times, a she. But not both at once.

      What I mean is that (regardless of the speculation regarding a "default gender") all evidence points to Time Lords being individuals who are, at times, decidedly female, and at times, decidedly male; but at no point do they consider themselves gender-neutral, and thereby as someone who could be referred to as "they".

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    • Amen to people being nice to each other. It seems to me that we agree on the appropriate usage in many cases. As for the remaining discrepancies, as you said earlier, "Let's wait and see what other people think." That includes the OP, of course. While I can't close this thread because I engaged in the discussion proper, I would say that two or three opinions would be insufficient for me to determine the consensus.

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    • Hello again, everyone! Apologies for disappearing like that for so long; I was not seeing notifications for this thread. But thank you for discussing the issue with such interest and thoughtfulness while I was gone, anyway. Now it looks like I have a lot to catch up with, so allow me to address all of what could still use addressing. Prepare for a gigantic post...

      Could you please provide an in-universe confirmation that changing gender during a regeneration is an anomaly for Time Lords? I'm not sure I can remember anything of the sort.

      I believe I laid out the case fairly completely in the original post. The only examples we have of any cross-sex regenerations in the show are, by definition, anomalous; like I explained, the Doctor, the Master, and the General were all one sex for each and every one of their incarnations except for one time each. And, as Scrooge MacDuck pointed out, while the Corsair (entirely forgot to mention him, so thanks, Scrooge) did deviate from his usual sex more than once, it was still only a few times. So the anomaly is there.

      But in addition to that, since those are our only examples of such a regeneration occurring that we have to go by, we are left only to assume that it is a pretty rare occurrence for other Time Lords, as well. And that is backed up by the argument that could be made that if such an occurrence was too commonplace it would destabilize Time Lord society and the fact that, if it were truly just a 50/50 chance every time, the Doctor, Master, and General could not have all beaten such odds with every single one of their regenerations except once each as they have. As depicted in the show with every Time Lord we have seen, there is an observable tendency to regenerate into the same sex each time. But anyway, that's kind of just a tangent.

      All I can see so far from the example(s) provided is that one or two Time Lords considered a particular gender to be normal for them. Given the total number of Time Lords (one can guesstimate it from the number of children on Gallifrey at the moment of the end of the Time War, which was in the billions), there is, statistically speaking, almost no information about their views on gender change. The percentage of Time Lords who voiced their opinion on the subject is (almost) 0.

      Of course, if the Doctor (or another Time Lord) said something about all Time Lords rather than him/herself, that would be in-universe evidence. My question is whether any such general statement exists? So far I've only seen subjective statements about individual preferences. A reason to generalise from one General to all Time Lords is lacking.

      Okay, except using any of these pronouns requires some level of assumption, and my argument is that the only thing the show allows us to assume is that there is a gender norm – at least in the case of these 4 Time Lords, if not all of them. Instead, what this Wiki is doing is assuming that the Time Lords are to be referred to as "they" when not referring to a specific incarnation, in direct contradiction with all of what has been done in the show itself. THAT is something that should require evidence to argue doing, not simply sticking with the method that the show has set for us by using "he" or "she" instead.

      When the only views we have on the issue all agree on one mode of thought, that is the only thing we can assume as true for the Time Lords as a whole, not the entirely out-of-universe concept of using "they." And keep in mind that it is not only those individual Time Lords' views on themselves that the show has presented us, but also other Time Lords views on them, as is the case with the Doctor's referring to the Master and the Corsair as generally male.

      But even if we were to say okay about using "they" for all of the instances in which it is unknown what the individual Time Lord's views on the issue were, what this Wiki is currently doing does not follow that line thinking. If that were to be the policy, we should then be calling every Time Lord (as I mentioned earlier) except for the Doctor, Master, General, and Corsair "they," and referring to those 4 as "he," "he," "she," and "he," respectively, since we know from in-show dialogue what their "general pronouns" are. And if this hypothetical policy were to be taken to its logical conclusion, we would also have to refer to every single character of every species as "they," since we do not know who might have a different sense of gender or a different belief about their identity or an ability to change sex. But of course that would be ridiculous and extreme. Instead what we do is start from a sensible default that we logically must assume until proven otherwise, in which case we adjust for the exception. So all I'm suggesting is to keep doing that, since an inconsistency has arisen.

      Instead of repeating what I said before in another way, let me bring something new to the table. Specifically, a quote: [...]

      Ah yes, this infamous quote, haha. Now that is not a valid piece of evidence that we can actually use to argue anything, really, and let me tell you why: it is played off by the show itself.

      First, let's take a look at the full dialogue itself:

      Doctor: I think she [the Master] was a man back then. I’m fairly sure that I was, too – it was a long time ago, though.

      Bill: So... Time Lords... A bit flexible on the whole, like, man/woman thing, then, yeah?

      Doctor: We’re the most civilized civilization in the universe. We’re billions of years beyond your petty human obsession with gender and its associated stereotypes.

      Bill: But you still call yourselves Time ‘Lords.’

      Doctor: ...Yeah, shut up.

      Bill: [chuckles] Okay.

      See? It’s immediately shut down as something not to be taken too seriously by Bill’s pointing that fact out and leaving the Doctor with no comeback after.

      And beyond that, it is also contradicted by other examples throughout the show. For example, there was the time the General regenerated and asked how men could possibly cope "with all that ego," the time the Saxon Master said this: [when Missy calls Cyber-Bill "her"] "HER? It’s a Cyberman now. [...] Becoming a woman is one thing, but have you got empathy?" [and when Cyber-Bill tells them to stand aside and the Doctor says, "Do as she says"] "'Do as SHE says' - is the future gonna be ALL girl?" And this is all said with nothing but disgust in his voice, which fits with other sexist attitudes he had expressed before with such comments as "Killed by an insect! A girl ...How inappropriate!" Then there's also the Eleventh Doctor's sneaky laugh at Clara when he claimed he wasn’t shutting the TARDIS down to basic mode just because she was a girl. Oh, and I have unfortunately not seen Twice Upon a Time yet, but I have heard that they portray the First Doctor as rather "old-fashioned" and sexist. All of those instances prove that Time Lords are not, in fact, all beyond gendered thinking or stereotypes.

      But either way, the way I've always took that conversation between the Twelfth Doctor and Bill to mean would not support using "they" to refer to Time Lords generally, anyway. The Doctor says they were beyond "gender and its associated stereotypes," clearly referring to "gender" as in the social/cultural/stereotypical idea, as opposed to the biological sex. Yet he is referring to the Master still as "he/she," so that would not mean Time Lords call each other "they" because they do not have gender, because that is shown not to be the case in the very conversation itself. Instead, it seems to be saying that Time Lords do not care about this imaginary idea of "gender" like human culture is so caught up in arguing about right now, instead only basing pronouns on biological sex. That is the only basis left at that point for whether to call a Time Lord a "he" or a "she," if we are to take that conversation seriously at all, but that does not really help us with this specific discussion we are currently having in any way, so that's irrelevant. But at any rate, it does not support a "they" usage.

      Ok, as long as this thread does not establish some deep conclusions about an alleged baseline gender in Time Lord society, let us discuss the pronoun.

      First of all, there is, in my mind, zero problem referring to a specific incarnation by the gender of that incarnation. No reason to abandon doing that. The case of referring to several incarnations of the same gender is more subtle, but the simplest solution is, again, to use the common gender pronoun, given that it was the same person after all.

      Glad we're all in agreement here.

      The real question, for me, is referring to multiple incarnations of both genders. Note that this is not at all that common an occurrence. For instance, if Missy is talking about her lifelong feelings or interests, I would still consider the female pronoun appropriate. If Missy talks about herself, as you say, she is probably referring to herself as a she. So really I can only see a problem when a third person refers to an absent Time Lord who changed gender or when the reference specifically addresses multiple-gender incarnations.

      Except, seeing as I keep finding "they" all over the place, it is evidently fairly common :P

      Unfortunately, given Tardis:Neutral point of view, much of what is written about the Doctor etc. must be written from the 3rd-person perspective (omniscient narrator) and from the point of view of the end of the universe. So no connection to a particular incarnation is possible. The neutrality and the randomness of the in-universe pronoun use, pointed out before, seemingly leave no choice other than a gender-neutral pronoun. No other choice would be neutral.

      But that's simply not the case. The specificity and consistency of the in-universe pronoun use, as laid out in-depth by Scrooge, leave no choice other than using the pronoun most applicable to the predominant number of the Time Lord's sexes. That is how the show treats the issue, so the way I see it is that it would be an arbitrary and presumptuous act of reading our own independent, external interpretations/feelings/views into the material to do otherwise.

      Finally, I would like to point out that "they" is not the cause of problems with clarity. One has exactly the same mess when five male characters have a scene together, making any attempt at using "he" problematic.

      After all, we only have four types of personal pronouns. Thus, by the pigeonhole principle, whenever five characters are discussed, at least two of them are going to be pronoun-confusable. Whatever is decided in this thread, good editing was, is and will remain the only solution to unclear prose.

      Except that is surely an extraordinarily rarer case than whenever there would otherwise be a single use of "they" in a sentence if it weren't for this inherently confusing system we've put into place, lol. There are common methods and standards to English that can help prevent unclarity when referring to multiple "he"'s, but there has never been a common need to do the same for "they"'s, so introducing that word's use in this way also introduces and multiplies the number of cases in which prose will no longer be clear and will require creative reorganizing.

      And using "they" in this manner is, once again, not grammatically correct to begin with, so the means of solving those cases of unclarity will require even more creativity and potentially awkward phrasing than would ever be needed for the standard "he" situations, since the English language does not provide for such shenanigans. And that brings up another issue I have addressed that no one else has really responded to: this is not proper grammar, so why is it even an option to begin with? From an English perspective, we shouldn't even be having this discussion in the first place.

      Anyway, sorry for the monstrous wall of text, lol.

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    • Basically I think Scrooge’s last message was spot-on

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    • Oh, I’d like to add one thing regarding the Time Lord / Time Lady conversation 12 and Bill had. I just realized there is another possible interpretation: the Doctor could be referring to gender as in sex “and its associated stereotypes” just to say that the Time Lords aren’t sexist, and thus they don’t judge if someone goes from a man to a woman. But of course that still does not help with this conversation, still does not support a “they” usage, and is still played off to not be taken too seriously and contradicted by the show itself.

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    • Thanks for coming back, Game-Fanatic, and making your point clearer — albeit through a wall of text.

      I'm afraid you're fighting a losing battle with the matter of "anomalies". I'm personally with you, but Amorkuz has pretty unequivocally ruled that while the evidence supports such an interpretation, it's still an interpretation, and thus out of bounds for the Tardis Wiki (rather like how we don't quite have official confirmation that the Face of Boe is Jack Harkness, even though there probably isn't a Doctor Who writer alive who'd disagree, and thus this Wiki still keeps the pages separate).

      You're quite right to point out that the idea that Time Lords are beyond gender-stereotyping is not only contradicted elsewhere, but contradicted right there in the scene. That's something to bear in mind.

      But mostly, I'd focus on the fact that I stated many times and which you reignited — by pointing out that this very conversation about gender-fluid Time Lords still does not use "they". "They" is simply not a way of referring to gender-crossing Time Lords that is supported anywhere in valid sources, regardless of whether Time Lords have a "main" gender or not.

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    • Yeah, I guess I can give you guys that in regards to assuming all Time Lords each consistently have one sex for the most part, even though I would still argue that seems to be the case and that it is really the only thing we could conclude. But that’s not really my main point, anyway; at the very least the show does indisputably make that case for just these specific Time Lords, and they’re the only ones who ultimately matter for this discussion at this point in time.

      And also, yes, of course, the entire concept of “they” is completely foreign to the material that we have to work with.

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    • NateBumber wrote: It's probably worth noting that Titan Comics has now set precedent for the "singular they".

      Huh, have they? (I don't know, I don't really keep up with them.) Where?

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    • On the blurb of The Thirteenth Doctor #0.

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    • Yeah, but that’s an out-of-universe thing. We’ll have to see if they make use of it in the story itself.

      I’d also like to point out that the page for the Master also already follows the system Scrooge and I are suggesting when it comes to the Master’s name, only using Mistress when referring to the female incarnation, if that’s worth contributing at all.

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    • There is also an interesting passage in "Previously..." at the beginning of the same comic, which is inching closer towards in-universe info: "...the Twelfth Doctor faced his darkest hour: ... losing Missy to herself..." It seems to me that he lost Missy to John Simm's Master. In other words, "herself" here kinda applies to a male incarnation.

      I have a bad feeling about this: namely, that the writers will end up with the same discordial mess as us.

      Accordingly, I have a proposal. Instead of continuing this debate immediately, we pull out popcorn, sit and watch how the in-universe will deal with it. After we have a larger sample set of strictly in-universe utterances, we might be able to make more educated guesses.

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    • Words of wisdom. (The example you note, incidentally, seems consistent with a previously-cited instance in-episode where, soon after they learned of Missy, UNIT referred to her actions as Harold Saxon with "she".)

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    • Well should we at least attempt to fit the majority of what has been provided in-universe thus far until more light is shed on the subject, rather than just sticking with “they,” since that’s not really coming from anywhere?

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    • Reminder: no actions can be taken until this thread is closed by an admin.

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    • I'd just like to note that in the novelisation of Twice Upon a Time it says the following before 12 gives his final speech to his future self:

      There were a few things he wanted to say to whatever old or young pale-skinned man took his place. Because he was one of those stuck-in-a-rut Time Lords who always got basically the same model of body.

      Which would seem to suggest that not all Time Lords have one default gender that would very rarely change as an anomaly.

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    • Sounds to me like there’s a common precedent in Time Lord society based on that line that many retain “basically the same model of body” through all their lives. Not all, but it’s obviously enough to be a pretty common thing. All it means is that he thought he was not one of the Time Lords that ever changes race (notice he is also referring to his skin color) or sex. Which is apparently a thing on Gallifrey. That doesn’t really tell us which one is more rare than the other or whatever.

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    • Ehh… I was with you so far, Game, but I think you're kind of bending over backwards in trying to interpret that quote. "One of those stuck-in-a-rut Time Lords" implies that it's a rather common thing, yes, but it's pretty decisive on the fact that it's still not the norm, but rather an ailment/lack of skill.

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    • So you think that specifically suggests it is rare for Time Lords to not to change race/sex? I just read it as a sort of “oh well that stinks that I’m not one of the cool Time Lords that can regenerate with more variety” thing, which doesn’t really clarify what is more or less rare, just that there are some who don’t ever change race/sex at all and some that do...

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    • Well, "stuck-in-a-rut" implies not necessarily that it's rare, but that it's an issue — that normally a Time Lord ought to be able to regenerate with control and into any and everything, whereas in practice it ends up being not that way.

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    • Isn’t that expression usually used when someone is starting to feel bored or like they do the same thing over and over again? Which would mean it simply denotes the Doctor’s negative feelings about his particular regeneration situation more than any sort of idea of a defect, wouldn’t it?

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    • Hm… I suppose it could go both ways, it's just that the phrasing "one of those Time Lords" seemed to sway towards my interpretation.

      I'd say that on this issue like the rest we should probably wait until Series 11 (and some more, contingent 13th Doctor material) is released before we draw any definitive conclusions.

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    • To add my two cents to your textual analysis. At some point I realised that quite a few experienced DW writers excel at writing things that, on the one hand, are easily interpreted and understood when first uttered, but on the other hand, would not strictly speaking contradict almost anything that future writers might decide to do. Perhaps, part of the reason is the infamous UNIT dating controversy, which taught everyone the value of being non-committal. To give an example, did you notice how evasive the Doctor has always been about his age? This evasiveness ensures that there is no problem to slot more stories in between existing ones, stories that may take hundreds of years of the Doctor's personal time (e.g., Orbis).

      What it means for us, editors, is that sometimes we are trying very hard to divine the exact meaning of phrases that have been specifically designed not to have one.

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    • Very good observation, Amorkuz. It’s an interesting problem to have, as it is good for the show but difficult sometimes for us, haha. Perhaps that is in fact one of those things, perhaps “one of those Time Lords” is meant to be slightly ambiguous. I would definitely take it as a simple “ugh, I’m the boring type of Time Lord that doesn’t change [race and/or sex]” sort of thing, rather than “I’m one of the few who can’t do that,” but maybe it’s impossible to truly definitively categorize it as one or the other. In that case, though I agree that it would be helpful to wait for more in-show evidence for what to do, I also don’t think we should just continue to stick with the “they” concept we’ve merely invented until that happens; wouldn’t it be better to assume what the majority of the in-show evidence suggests until more information can be gleaned in the future?

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    • Ahah! A bit of interesting new data, from the The Thirteenth Doctor #0 comic: the narration (from the Doctor herself) refers to the Master in a way that supports Game-Fanatic's suggestions. Missy is referred to as "when he was a woman" (emphasis mine). And this isn't a case of referring to an old incarnation of a Time Lord who has turned back into a man, since as we know, Missy is (until the next retcon) dead as a doorknob before she could regenerate.

      When he was a woman
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    • I’d just like to point something out. Game-fanatic, you say;

      Game-fanatic wrote: Yeah, but that’s an out-of-universe thing. We’ll have to see if they make use of it in the story itself.

      Yet this wiki does take into account out of universe things from time to time. It counts Dreyfus’ Master as the first incarnation, when all we have to go on that is the news article announcing the set he was in.

      So really, it doesn’t matter much if it’s only out of universe, because this wiki likes to use that sometimes.

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    • Ben Moore512 wrote: (…) this wiki does take into account out of universe things from time to time. It counts Dreyfus’ Master as the first incarnation, when all we have to go on that is the news article announcing the set he was in.

      So really, it doesn’t matter much if it’s only out of universe, because this wiki likes to use that sometimes.

      I think the Dreyfus Master is a rather different issue. It's evidence of authorial intent for a narrative element.

      On the other hand, the fact that out-of-universe content refers to the Doctor as "they" here (and I'm not entirely sure this was a singular "they" as opposed to another "wonderful chap… all of them"-type gag) doesn't say much about whether this is how characters would refer to the Doctor in-universe.

      Regardless, while Tardis Wiki occasionally uses out-of-universe sources, they are to be taken with caution (as they are technically disallowed by Tardis:Valid Sources, being non-narrative), and are secondary to in-universe sources.

      So I think Game-Fanatic's point is that for now we have evidence of the "he-she switching" in-universe, and of "singular they" only out-of-universe; hence until such a time as "they" proves itself to be a valid in-universe alternative, we should go with the in-universe take over it.

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    • Ben Moore512 wrote: Yet this wiki does take into account out of universe things from time to time. It counts Dreyfus’ Master as the first incarnation, when all we have to go on that is the news article announcing the set he was in.

      This statement is not accurate. Tardis:Valid sources is the governing rule: Only stories count. The question of that being the first Master has been discussed multiple times and I know of no such discussion having been concluded. Please do not confuse an edit implemented by one or several editors with a decision made by the whole community through a forum or a talk page.

      With that, we should all return to the matter at hand. Whether Dreyfus is the first incarnation of the Master is off topic and should not be discussed further at this thread. Those interested should contribute to multiple open Master-related threads, some of which are as old as 5 years.

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    • Of course. I was simply pointing it out. And yes, it's offtopic.

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    • More quotes while we wait:

      Nyssa: I didn’t know that Time Lords could change gender, Doctor.

      Fifth Doctor: Gender is a very fluid concept, Nyssa. For some people more than others. A Time Lord even more so.After Ophiuchus changed gender. [src]

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    • Doctor narrating: One Time Lord in particular. He — or she — always manages to escape... [src]
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    • That last quote is interesting. Is that a case where the Doctor is referring to a Time Lord in general as “he or she,” rather than simply “he” or “she”? Or, since the “she” seems to be more of an afterthought than the initial “he,” is this something more like what he did when referring to the Corsair?

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    • As usual, it is hard to say. I'm not even sure whether it is the narration of the Twelfth Doctor right before the regeneration or the Thirteenth Doctor right after. (The frame with the Thirteenth Doctor did appear by this time in the collection though.)

      This is the regenerating Doctor remembering his -- or her -- life and commenting on this or that episode. This particular phrase is at the last frame of the Sixth Doctor episode remembered. It seems counterintuitive to me that this might refer to the Doctor himself -- or at this point, herself. The next story features the Master (as male). And previous stories used narration with ellipses to preview the next story. So my money would be on the Doctor referring this way to the Master, not to a Time Lord in general.

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    • It's actually real simple. It's incorrect to say the Doctor in general is a "male Time Lord", and generic "he" is not a thing. You cannot describe the Doctor, in general, with he/him pronouns. Some of their incarnations use he/him pronouns, and at least one incarnation so far uses she/her.

      "He or she" is just generic "he", with "or she" added as an afterthought. And it does not describe the nuances of gender, anyhow.

      It has been established in the DWU that Time Lords do not think of gender in the restrictive sense that most modern humans do. Being different genders in different incarnations is not at all seen as an anomaly; in that rooftop scene, recently, Twelve can't even recall if the Master was a man at the time they first knew each other.

      I'm loving that Fifth Doctor quote Amorkuz found. In human terms, all Time Lords are effectively genderfluid. Many aspects of a Time Lord's personal identity change with regeneration, and that's just one of them. Not all Time Lords stay middle-aged white men throughout their regenerations; that's just what we saw in classic Who for real world reasons. This can no longer be considered the norm.

      There's not much to discuss here. Singular they/them are simply the correct pronouns to use here, as they're the gender-neutral personal pronouns we have been blessed with in the English language. And as Nate brought up, Titan Comics has picked up on this, and is using singular they for the Doctor too.

      So they/them for the Doctor in general, he/him or she/her for specific incarnations, and he/him is good when discussing only male Doctors, too.

      The real objection here is about best phrasing. "The Fifth Doctor and Adric returned to the TARDIS because he had a cold." That sentence does not work, because we don't know who "he" is. Because singular they and plural they appear quite similar without context (much like singular/plural you), we will encounter sentences where further specificity would be most helpful.

      So if it's not clear in the sentence if "they" is the Doctor or the Daleks, you make sure to swap out the pronoun for a regular old noun, or a noun group. "The Doctor hated the Daleks, because they always escaped their grasp" could always become "because they always escaped the Time Lord's grasp".

      This is the same issue as with the Doctor and Adric. "Because Adric had a cold".

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    • And beyond that, it's simply a matter of perspective. "The Thirteenth Doctor looked back on her past lives", because it's from her perspective specifically.

      But, "Across their many lives, the Doctor remained devoted to the planet Earth", or "The Doctor's sonic screwdriver proved to be an invaluable tool throughout their travels and escapades", or "The Doctor usually had a companion by their side" -- all use they/them pronouns, because of the broader perspective.

      Meanwhile, "The Fourth Doctor had spent much of his last incarnation working for UNIT on Earth".

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    • As to that one voice here claiming singular they is not correct English, I'm sorry but that is simply not the case. We have been using singular they for longer than we've been using singular you.

      At the time Shakespeare used singular they, "you" was specifically a plural pronoun (or a form of "ye", a plural pronoun), and many objected when people started using you as both singular and plural, in place of thou. Both they and you follow the same grammatical rules, in terms of conjugation.

      For some reason, though, even though everyone uses singular they in common parlance, like all the time without realising it, there was some pushback in recent years. Just to note, some linguists were against singular they, and some others acknowledged that it is grammatically correct, and that it's been around for hundreds of years.

      Now, it's taken some time, but it's finally been acknowledged, within the last year or two, by the Associated Press Stylebook and the Chicago Manual of Style, that singular they is very much a thing, and quite correct to use.

      Don't believe me and the style guides? Take it from Oxford Dictionaries. Or Merriam-Webster. Prof Dennis Barron goes over the history here.

      Singular they was literally declared Word of the Year for 2015 by a crowd of over 200 linguists at the American Dialect Society.

      And all that aside, there exist many people in the real world who are neither "he" or "she", and many of us use singular they in our day-to-day lives, or opt for neopronouns. That is literally the only correct way to refer to me, and I'm not even a Time Lord.

      So. Singular they exists. It's grammatically correct, it's linguist-approved, it's in the dictionaries, it's in the style guides, and it has a long history, from the 14th century to the present day.

      Singular they is our gender-neutral 3rd person singular (personal) pronoun in English. "It" is for objects, or concepts, and maybe animals. Do not call a person "it". Assuming that "he" applies to everyone is incredibly archaic, and reflects past views that told the story of human life from men's perspectives only, and which assumed maleness as somehow default. Just as none of those would apply to me, an actual human person who's nonbinary, we should follow proper gender-neutral language with regards to the Doctor too.

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    • And I get where we're coming from, looking for in-universe precedent, and saying, "But hey, this character once said 'he or she', so we should abandon all else and go for the least succinct option here!"

      However, here at Tardis Wiki, the rules of the English language -- and British English specifically -- take precedence over specific language usage in the DWU, except in very specific circumstances where British English has an alternative spelling as an option, as well.

      Also, this is all specifically mentioned in T:DOCTORS, so unless a community discussion is closed by an admin in favour of changing things, this pronoun usage is laid out in the Manual of Style.
      I'll explain in a minute that we've already ruled all this from past discussions, but it should be pointed out that it would be in violation of T:POINT to go about acting on your position here, contrary to T:DOCTORS, while this thread is open.

      So if you're sat wondering why we're using singular they for a character with multiple genders, for a character of indeterminate gender, or for a character outside of the gender binary, it's because we're using English.

      Alpha Centauri is not a he or a she, either, and even though some early sources had the Doctor using he/him pronouns, later sources opted for better neutral language.


      Now, we've had this discussion before -- here and here -- and we ruled that:

      1. In general, use the pronouns given within a narrative. (This might be he/him, she/her, they/them, such as for Orr, and for Sgloomi Po, it's actually [ze]/hir.)
      2. If no clear set of pronouns is given, default to they/them.
      3. If stories conflict and give different pronouns, default to they/them, instead of flip-flopping based on the story cited. (This is the case with Alpha Centauri.)


      We're in the "business" of presenting information from DWU narratives, truthfully and to-the-point, using our own language to best describe what is presented to us. And we have the Manual of Style to standardise the language we use across Tardis.

      So, for a Time Lord who uses different pronouns at different points in time, it's they/them in general, and when referring to specific incarnations, use the pronouns given. It's "the Doctor and their TARDIS", the "Thirteenth Doctor and her TARDIS", and the "Second Doctor and his TARDIS".

      "The Master killed his next incarnation, Missy", and "Missy was killed by her previous incarnation, who took their future into his own hands." "The Master usually regarded the Doctor as their enemy, but in one incarnation, Missy found herself befriending him."

      If you think there might be some confusion, swap out a pronoun for a noun, or add the same pronoun earlier on for consistency, and you'll have better flow.

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    • Actually, I think that about sums it up. No new conflicting information has come up since the last discussions we've had. New evidence only reinforces the approach we had agreed upon.

      My above posts summarise relevant grammar, policy, and precedent.

      Opposing arguments are built on a false notion that we "made up" singular they/them pronouns, when it has been clearly established this is far from the case. Concerns about confusing sentence structure have been addressed: change your wording, when needed, to clarify.

      Nothing new has been brought forward to justify changing our approach, and I do find it is the best approach, accurately describing what the narrative has given us, taking all variables into account. Titan Comics seem to be the ones on top of this, too, so I'd be curious to have a look again at what they'll be doing in-story with pronouns as time goes on.

      So I'm closing the thread, in favour of continuing to use neutral pronouns. If properly new information comes into play in the future, we can always revisit these issues. Thank you all for taking the time to investigate. We stand on even firmer ground now.

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    • I'm reopening this thread because it has been closed prematurely. User:Amorkuz, about halfway up the page from here, suggested: "Accordingly, I have a proposal. Instead of continuing this debate immediately, we pull out popcorn, sit and watch how the in-universe will deal with it. After we have a larger sample set of strictly in-universe utterances, we might be able to make more educated guesses."

      In closing this thread, User:SOTO stated "Nothing new has been brought forward to justify changing our approach". However, most users had probably read Amorkuz' suggestion to wait, and therefore held back from bringing forth other views. I know of at least one user, myself, who had something new to add but was respecting Amorkuz' suggestion that we wait for a bit.

      I think it's unfair, and can come off as underhanded, for one admin to close a thread after another admin has suggested holding off for a bit. We haven't even started season 11 (or whatever number it is) yet, and we will most likely get plenty of information and ammunition for our policy, so it's best to wait for some or all of the season to air.

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    • As I mentioned, people are perfectly free to open a new thread if new conflicting information does come forward.

      This thread started out as a rehashing of discussions we've already had in the recent past. This approach was the conclusion of those threads. I believe any community discussion hoping to change our approach should arise from new information.

      And I do maintain that this is largely an English language issue, and that, grammatically speaking, singular they/them is most appropriate to these circumstances. Titan thinks so too, even if they've only found occasion to use such language in BTS blurbs for now.


      In-narrative with a different character, Orr, singular they/them is clearly established in Aliens Among Us as the correct set of pronouns for an individual who is not always identifiable as "he" or "she". The characters slip up, some of them assume one set of gendered pronouns and then get confused as to what to call them, but it is clearly established that they/them is the way to go with Orr.

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    • I suppose if the thread is re-opened, though, we'll see what Titan does next.

      So far, on television, the convention has been to retain current perspective. Like I said above, from Missy's perspective, it's her past lives, and for the Saxon Master, she is his future self.

      When the General regenerates back into a woman, everyone instantly switches pronouns, but as an encyclopedia, we cannot change perspective to always reflect the current incarnation of a Time Lord. Our in-universe perspective considers events as if recounted at the end of the universe, by a neutral omniscient third party.

      So if we're talking about the Doctor or the Master, we really want the overview perspective. There is no "current" incarnation, as far as our writing goes, male or female. Stories will have the luxury of a fixed perspective. We do not.

      For instance, the Titan blurb needed to pick pronouns for the Doctor, considered from a neutral POV. The same Titan story had no problem sticking to fixed perspectives. The point in the Doctor's timeline on display, at each point in the comic, determines the perspective they use. At no point in that story do they need to employ the "overview perspective", to comment more generally on the character. When they do have to, in the summary, they take the same approach we do here.

      Most "new evidence" we'll get to look at will likely use a fixed perspective, relevant to that story. The Thirteenth Doctor will recall when she was an older man.

      In World Enough and Time, Twelve talks about his time with the Master, in each of their first incarnations, and still uses she/her pronouns, because right then in the timeline, the Master is a woman. This does not mean we should retroactively call kid Master "she". The story uses a fixed perspective for pronouns, so she/her for all versions of the Master, but we have more to consider, to remain truly neutral in our perspective.

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    • Examples of an overview perspective within a narrative would be more:

      Osgood reads out a file about the Doctor. It says something like, "Many of their incarnations seem reluctant to comply, but they will ultimately cooperate with UNIT forces, toward a common goal."

      And maybe in prose, or exposition-heavy dialogue, one story finally will discuss the Doctor more generally, in the third person, from an overview perspective. But so far, even Titan hasn't given us that (within a narrative).

      We already take cues from credits which name characters, by the way. Broken gives Ianto's mum the name Glenda in the credits, but that's not established within the story itself. And our naming scheme for Romana's different incarnations is not followed in any narrative, nor even in credits.

      To quote:

      The designation "Romana II" is not precisely derived from DWU narratives. Rather, it comes from various reference literature like Companions of Doctor Who and Doctor Who Magazine itself.

      Even if we never see in a story what the Titan blurb gave us, there is clear precedent for following their real world usage anyway.

      (And again, it's what the English language would have us do, and I still maintain that grammar takes precedence over exact word choice in stories, unless we're giving a quote.)
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    • To keep with the Osgood example, by the way, it should be noted that she also instantly switches to she/her for the Master in Death in Heaven, and talking about the John Simm incarnation too:

      Osgood: "We do have files on all our ex-prime ministers. She wasn't even the worst."

      More examples of fixed perspective will not help us.

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    • I'm surprised to see this reopened, when it should have been closed within a day of the first post; User:Shambala108, you of all people surely recognize how important it is to consistently apply the rule against new discussions about already-decided topics without any new evidence. If only I could reopen every closed thread in which I thought I had more to say! I look forward to reading the new evidence that you were waiting to post.

      Anyway, in my opinion, User:SOTO has done a wonderful job summarizing the reasons for the precedent set by Thread:137391 and Thread:152896 and encoded in T:DOCTORS. Because of how the English language works, it seems self-evident to me that "they" is the most preferable option, and I have yet to see any reason for that to change.

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    • In-narrative with a different character, Orr, singular they/them is clearly established in Aliens Among Us as the correct set of pronouns for an individual who is not always identifiable as "he" or "she".
      Because of how the English language works, it seems self-evident to me that "they" is the most preferable option, and I have yet to see any reason for that to change.

      Going to reply to both of these at once: what I've been arguing is that Time Lords are not the same thing as Orr. Orr is a constantly-shifting being who is, in fact, non-binary; thus "they" is appropriate.

      But Time Lords aren't non-binary — nor is their gender unknown: it's a case that simply doesn't exist in the real world of a being who spends rather period of its life as one sex and gender, then switches for an equally-long and solid period of time. At times the Master is a "he", at times the Master is a "she", but there's never a time (to our knowledge) when the Master identifies as a "they".

      Thus I argue that "they" would be appropriate for people whose gender is not "male" or "female", like Orr or Alpha Centauri; or for people whose gender is just unknown; but it doesn't accurately describe the situation of a Time Lord, who is either "male" or "female", as accurately as systematic "he or she"/"she or he" would.

      I think this is a very real nuance. My calling-up of in-universe examples of "he or she"-type phrasing hasn't been to argue that "he or she" is the way people in the DWU refer to those whom we in the real world would refer to as "they"; it's been on the basis that "he or she" and the singular "they" mean different things.

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    • If we're making real-world connections, I do know people who use different pronouns at different points in time; their gender fluctuates. They’re genderfluid. I might ask them on a given day what pronouns to use, but ultimately, if I’m unsure, or I’m speaking more generally about them, I will default to they.

      The lovely thing about singular they is that it gets to wear two hats: they’re both gender-specific pronouns, used by many trans and nonbinary people, and generic, neutral gender-nonspecific pronouns, for anyone.

      So I am not claiming here that the Doctor prefers they/them pronouns, or that they’re the best pronouns to use in all cases, as with Orr.

      I’m using the latter sense, of gender-nonspecificity. Sometimes they’re "he", sometimes they’re "she", so described generally, "they" is most appropriate.

      "They" is like "he or she", but compact, and doesn’t carry "or she" as a mere afterthought. Since "they" can be gender-nonspecific, its use is not limited to people who are not at all "he" or "she", or who fall somewhere in between. The Doctor is, in fact, he and she, at different points in their timeline.

      It’s true neutral, not constrained to two options, and that means it's also future-proof. Time Lords can regenerate into any sort of person, so you never know what their future holds.

      Five actually describes gender as fluid, for many people, and "even more so" for Time Lords. And Twelve says Time Lords are above "petty human concepts" of strict binary gender, so why force it onto them?

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    • Hm… I'm kind of coming round to your view of things, but a few points:

      • I do know of genderfluid people, but Time Lords felt yet again different: they don't change "at random" while still keeping the same body; each life, which is in many ways its own sentient entity, has a different gender. I think the difference is worth keeping in mind.
      • I was definitely not using "he or she" in a sense where "she" is an "afterthought"; I meant it as literally what it is, "he" or "she" having equal values. If you do think that such a wording implies precedence of the "he", my suggestion would be that we'd flip it around depending either on majority (in which case, for example, Kenossium's lead would say "she or he") or latest known incarnation (in which case the Doctor's lead would read "she or he", but be switched back to "he or she" if and when we get a male Doctor again).
      • Concerning the "petty human obsession (blah blah)" quote, look upthread for the very reasonable out-pointing that put back into its context the quote isn't supposed to be that convincing. The Fifth Doctor quote is a much better contender, if nothing else.

      Still, if a majority feel that "they" can describe a being who has at times been a "he", at times a "she", and never a positive "they", even if we know about when that being was one or the other… then I'll retract my objection. Personally I feel that "they" oughtn't cover such situations, and "he or she" is better, but I'm not the Glorious Crowned Monarch of the Tongue of Shakespeare Incarnate, or anything.

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    • Thank goodness this thread was reopened. I was just wanting to discuss the sudden closure, in fact, as I was upset about what seemed like a rash, arbitrary, and honestly somewhat personal-agenda-motivated decision. I would have loved the opportunity to respond to some of the comments, because I really don’t see it being nearly as finished as Soto seemed to have independently decided. Now, please understand that it is not at all my intention to insult anyone, and I do not wish to disrespect Soto, but this issue must be spoken of with frankness in order to progress in any way, and I believed the closure was a simple, forgivable error in judgment.

      Soto, your first comment brought almost entirely already-addressed - and I would argue pretty soundly refuted - points in our discussion, yet you stated them as matters of indisputable fact without much of an attempt to counter the arguments previously established against them, which had all yet to be successfully countered.

      And then you went on to bring up the question of correct English, which I appreciated, as that had not received much discussion at that point in time. But then, instead of allowing the discussion on that currently controversial topic to unfold naturally, you, seemingly in part out of a personal thing of yours that I made clear in beginning the discussion should have no part in the decision-making process for this specifically in-universe issue (because, as much as any side of that issue in the real-life cultural sphere would like it to be, it is not yet a fully decided thing upon which everyone is ready to universally and correctly agree without a lot controversy, and I believe as a source of what is supposed to be only objective information, we must not allow this Wiki’s addressing of in-universe issues to be driven by any sociopolitical agendas from the outside), made a unilateral decision for the whole of the English-speaking world and closed the discussion on the basis of that decision. As an English major, the language and its use is very important to me, and so the conclusion that the issue of singular they is not at all questionable is something I find egregiously presumptuous and overly simplified.

      You mentioned historical usage and cited such sources as the Oxford Dictionary and Merriam-Webster as if they supported your conclusion when in fact they do no such thing. What Shakespeare wrote does not define how we use the language today, and Oxford Dictionary admits that there has been no such definitive conclusion of singular they’s supposedly being grammatically correct, while Merriam-Webster merely seems to advocate for its use in this “new” context more than officially declare some kind of universal consensus regarding it.

      But beyond that, you also seem to sometimes conflate the issue of singular they as it has been traditionally used in common speech as a substitute for the generic he (which you went on a seemingly off-topic tangent about regarding the theory of its being rooted in sexism, which some have argued that it is no more necessarily, inherently misogynistic than the relatively tame “mankind,” by the way) with the separate issue of the use of a singular they for directly referring to specific, known individuals. “They” is used in a singular way pretty regularly throughout history by many people, true (though that fact does not in itself mean it must be considered proper grammar), but never commonly in reference to specific, known people.

      Dictionary.com says it well with this explanation: “However, while use of they and its forms after singular indefinite pronouns or singular nouns of general personal reference or indefinite gender is common and generally acceptable, their use to refer to a single clearly specified, known, or named person is uncommon and likely to be noticed and criticized.” And Oxford Dictionary actually makes it clear in their entry for the definition of the word “they” that there is still a lack of common use or acceptance of many forms of a singular they, so that is definitely not a place to run to to say with such certainty that we can use “they” however we like, as you essentially were trying to do. These entries concur with what has been ruled by the style guides of MLA, Chicago, AP, and APA. Even still, they all pretty strongly discourage just about any use of singular they in formal writing and always instead suggest avoiding having to write a generic pronoun at all in the wording, and beyond that, only allow “they” to be used to refer to self-identifying genderqueer individuals solely on the basis that that is specifically what those individuals explicitly insist to be called, with Chicago admitting that, even though it is acceptable in limited cases, that “this usage is still not widespread either in speech or in writing,” and AP going so far as to say to “use the person’s name in place of a pronoun, or otherwise reword the sentence, whenever possible” but, if this use of “they” is truly essential, to “explain in the text that the person prefers a gender-neutral pronoun.”

      So it really is not as simple and conclusive as it was previously made out to be, and referring to anyone whenever you happen to be slightly confused about where they might fall gender-wise as “they” is definitely not some official rule in the slightest, grammatically. Rather, the only “rule” of the sort that we do sort of have available to us - and a technical and rare one at that - is completely dependent on what the person being referred to specifically wants to be called and only applies to genderqueer individuals. And while “Ask a friend if they could help” may make perfect sense and sound pretty natural in common, informal language, that is being said in a general, ambiguous way and not in a specifically personal, individual one. Disregarding the awkward lack of flow that that other practice can sometimes entail, I understand the current social push to try to force that pronoun into that specific use and make it acceptable. But there has to be a more organic way to make that happen, as that’s not the way language works. People cannot attempt to hijack the natural process of language’s evolution in order to fit a particular agenda, and that is why “they” is still uncommon to use in that way, regardless of what any of us may want.

      So, while of course Time Lords seem to be “gender fluid,” in a manner of speaking, in that their regenerations can literally make them change sex, they obviously do not exactly fit with the situation of those who believe themselves to be “non-gender-binary” in human terms. So, since none of the Time Lords we are discussing have ever identified as genderqueer in any way; since, if they hypothetically were to, it still would not automatically mean they should be referred to individually as “they,” grammatically speaking, since some genderqueer individuals prefer to be called “he,” “she,” “ze,” etc.; since the logical conclusion of doing this would require referring to every Time Lord as “they,” and potentially everyone else, too, based on reasoning I explained earlier; and, most importantly, since the show already does with specificity indicate what pronouns these specific Time Lords are to be referred to with from the mouths of Time Lords themselves (those that fit with their dominant sex, evidently, as laid out thoroughly before in special detail by Scrooge), I would like to take us back to rule #1, which Soto mentioned and which is as follows: “In general, use the pronouns given within a narrative.” Once again, that would mean, in correspondence with the fact that the whole cannot be defined by its anomalous exceptions (which has been indisputably proven to be the case with these four Time Lords) and with what most all of the in-narrative evidence we have from the show thus far (as opposed to the argument for “they” that is consistently being made from material that is not in-narrative), that the Doctor, Master, General, and Corsair are not to be referred to as “they,” but I would argue for now as “he,” “he,” “she,” and “he.”

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    • The Osgood conversation is a good example of the perspective thing, but I’m not entirely convinced yet that that could apply to all of the pronoun references we’ve mentioned so far in this thread.

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    • And since the rules of grammar do not suggest we should use “they” for these Time Lords, but in fact strongly suggest avoiding doing so, as I have argued, I really think an effort to better fit in-show dialogue and patterns with what we do is precisely what should be happening, and really all we can do. But again, I also agree that it would be useful to potentially get more information of that sort from series 11 to do that with.

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    • By the way, I just wanted to say, in case Series 11 has already or will soon disclose more information on this matter, I haven’t seen it yet, but I will be binging it some time soon. The reason is that I am currently working through a chronological marathon of the entire Whoniverse, and I’m not quite to that point yet. So I’d really appreciate that no final decisions be made based on information from series 11 until I see it, too, if that’s not too much to ask. I just really want to have a part in interpreting the information presented there and such

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    • Well, I was planning to write an extended reply for quite some time. But we all know where good intentions lead. However, there was new information, and it did not come from Series 11. Here is the quote

      Scan me again. I'm not loba or human. I'm not man or woman in the way you understand it. Scan me again!Thirteenth Doctor speaking about her own gender. [src]
      To give context, this was an explanation provided in a misogynistic society when she was charged with a violation as a female. Plus, she was talking to a drone. There is zero per cent of joke here. It is a matter of life and if not death, then a very painful torture. The reference to species right before shows, in addition, that she is nov not (thanks to Shambala108 for pointing out the typo) speaking about herself personally.

      This is, therefore, how Time Lords perceive gender. I hope that this quote would put to rest once and for all any idea of having any preference for a gender applied to Time Lords. Any particular incarnation has a current gender, but it is wrong to apply a particular gender to the whole lifetime of a Time Lord.

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    • Now that is by far the best piece of evidence we’ve gotten for using “they” so far. If anything will convince that’s the correct pronoun, it’ll be that quote there, so thanks for that. However, I still have a few questions / reservations. First, is that from the book The Good Doctor? And also, more importantly, one thing about that quote that sticks out to me is “in the way you understand it”; what could that mean specifically - perhaps more context could help? Finally, even if we do say this quote definitely means what we think it means without a shadow of doubt (though I would still think we should wait it out until series 11 is finished just in case more detailed insight can be gleaned on the issue, personally), what does that mean for all of the information we gleaned about how Time Lords view gender based on dialogue from the TV series? Does the book’s single quote take precedence over those things?

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    • Amorkuz wrote: ... in addition, that she is nov speaking about herself personally.

      Sorry, is this supposed to be "now" or "not"? I know it's a typo, but unusually it's not clear what is meant.

      Are we now saying that one novel will wipe out decades of pre-Jodie references to the Doctor as "he"? Because I'm pretty sure that up till now the Doctor has always been referred to as "he", despite what this novel is now saying. I've read over 400 prose stories featuring the Doctor, and these stories never use the pronoun "they". Food for thought.

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    • Apologies. That was a "not". I meant: In addition, the full quote shows that she is not speaking of herself personally. This is not a characteristic applied to her only. This is a general property of all Time Lords.

      I'll write more later, but in short I view this quote as the affirmation of the current rules. "He"/"she" when referring to a particular incarnation or to an opinion of the said incarnation about themselves, as in many quotes above. Indeed, there is overwhelming evidence for this. However, talking from an outside perspective (End of the universe perspective) about a Time Lord, there is no correct way of picking a gender, even if one gender appeared more times among the incarnations,

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    • Another thing I just noticed that brings a question to my mind: she demands the drone scan her again after saying she is not human or loba, not male or female “in the way you understand it” (which, once again, is an important piece of that quote, as I wonder what the “way [they] understand it” may be and if that “way” could affect how we interpret the meaning of this quote) - but what would the drone be scanning then except for her biology? Meaning, is this “I’m not man or woman” business actually referring not to anything that would necessarily apply to gendered pronouns, but rather her differences in physical anatomy as a Time Lord?

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    • Ok, let me try to answer all questions now:

      • Yes, this is from The Good Doctor (there is a link in the quote box, marked "[src]").
      • "in the way you understand it" does not get explained more. It is easy to speculate that a Time Lord speaking to a human-programmed drone does not expect it to fully comprehend her biology or technology. This has been established more or less from the beginning of the show. Compare it to a slightly more rude

      Not quite clear, is it. I can see by your face that you're not certain. You don't understand. And I knew you wouldn't. Never mind.First Doctor being rude to Ian Chesterton [src]
      Given that the drone is not a thinking organism and has no imagination, this statement appears to also be factual. The drone does not have a concept of a species who routinely change gender in the course of an individual's lifetime.
      • We should absolutely wait till the end of Series 11 as that was the whole point of reopening the discussion (not rediscussing things but searching for new in-universe information)
      • In my view, this quote provides exactly the same view of the gender as all the previous mentions. The "dominant/natural gender" theory always lacked in-universe background whereas there were several occurrences of various Doctors stating that gender is not a fixed concept for Time Lords (cf. the upthread quote from Series 10). The only argument put forward against them was that they might have been a joke or did not reflect on all Time Lords. I've only added one that is all but impossible to dispute on such grounds. Other than that it affirms all the previous quotes. Just like hair colour is not a stable characteristic for a human though some people die before becoming grey-haired (I've also known people who changed hair colour spontaneously in their teens, from blonde to black), so male/female is not a stable characteristic for Time Lords though some of them never get to be the other gender.
      • Regarding prior references to the Doctor. After suggesting to wait for Series 11 and watching the episodes, one after another, I was being disappointed that nothing came up. But then I realised I was being overoptimistic. Of course, in most cases, the Doctor would refer to a particular period of their life, which would determine a pronoun. Or, as in a Missy quote upthread, she would refer to her earlier male incarnation from her current vantage point using her current gender pronoun. In other words, in a normal story, most references would be subjective and this subjective reference point would naturally determine a he/she pronoun. On the contrary, our articles are supposed to be objective, which removes this reference point. Still in most cases, we can guess the incarnation (or infer that whatever the incarnation is meant, it was a male), which would still provide a specific he/she pronoun. In the same way, I now describe myself as dark-haired even though this description would hopefully become inaccurate at some point. And even then I would describe me now to my grandchildren as dark-haired. It is very rare mentions that really deal with the whole life of a Time Lord, from beginning to end, that we are disputing how to handle. Shambala108, I would be interested to see how they have been handled in the past to get a better picture of it.
      • Regarding scanning again. My understanding is, indeed, that she wants the drone to realise she does not fit into its database of humans and loba, which is why she cannot be considered a female as humans and loba would understand it. But whatever the finer shades of meaning, we should not try to change or negate the meaning of a clear statement based solely on speculation. In many other quotes, some measure of hedging was admittedly happening. It is simply not the case here. The simplest, most direct way of reading "you" in "as you understand it" is to apply it to you and me and every other reader. She is talking to a human-programmed drone. We are humans. She is not male or female the way we understand it.

      Let me know if I missed something.

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    • Amorkuz wrote: The "dominant/natural gender" theory always lacked in-universe background whereas there were several occurrences of various Doctors stating that gender is not a fixed concept for Time Lords (cf. the upthread quote from Series 10). The only argument put forward against them was that they might have been a joke or did not reflect on all Time Lords.

      Again you overlook my interpretation that I've much argued upthread, that the Time Lords may not have a dominant gender, but that doesn't mean (unless one particular incarnation is non-binary) that they should be referred to as "they" when talking about them in general, because they have been a "he" or a "she", but would not ever, that we know of, identify as a "they". As I've said time and time again this is a separate argument.

      And I don't think it's been proven that the Series 10 wasn't a joke. That doesn't mean much in the grander scheme of things, since the definitely-non-jokey quote from the comic is just as decisive, but I won't have the perfectly-true statemnt "the Series 10 quote is a joke" painted as just a straw-grasping argument.

      Amorkuz wrote:

      • Regarding prior references to the Doctor. After suggesting to wait for Series 11 and watching the episodes, one after another, I was being disappointed that nothing came up. But then I realised I was being overoptimistic.

      Eh, I'm holding out a little hope. If "the Timeless Child" is something to do with the Doctor's distant past, as most speculation has it, we might get some juicy statements about the Doctor across-regenerations before the series' close. The chances may be slim but they exist.

      Beyond these three points, thank you for the in-depth post and novel-checking!

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    • Worth mentioning this snippet from A Soldier's Education (emphasis mine):

      Where we have honour, this foe is honourless. Where we have single-minded purity, they are polluted by compassion. Where we have a healthy contempt for those who are not of the Empire, this foe allies themself constantly with lesser races. Most confusingly, this Time Lord consorts with humans, even recklessly allowing their human pets access to a timeship and other advanced technologies.{{{2}}}
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    • Scrooge MacDuck wrote: Again you overlook my interpretation

      Overlook = do not argue against it at the moment? Indeed, I wasn't. At the moment. :)

      Scrooge MacDuck wrote: And I don't think it's been proven that the Series 10 wasn't a joke. That doesn't mean much in the grander scheme of things, since the definitely-non-jokey quote from the comic is just as decisive, but I won't have the perfectly-true statemnt "the Series 10 quote is a joke" painted as just a straw-grasping argument.

      You misunderstand me. I'm a mathematician. When I say "the only argument", in no way do I mean a bad argument, or wrong argument, or insufficient argument. One proof is sufficient in mathematics. I never believed this argument myself, but I could not conclusively disprove it either, which is why I mentioned hedging. I strongly disagree with the "perfectly-true" characterisation. But I never meant to say that the argument was perfectly false either, or straw grasping. It simply happens sometimes that something that comes across as a joke was not meant as one. SOTO at some point persuaded me and many others that "Petronella" as Osgood's name must have been a joke. It was a brilliant and thorough statistical and contextual analysis of the text. It later (1+ years later) turned out that it was intended as her real name because it was used in credits and in text in other stories.

      So no offence was intended. Simply a statement that taking multiple quotes together invalidates the theory that Series 10 quote was a joke.

      Scrooge MacDuck wrote: Beyond these three points, thank you for the in-depth post and novel-checking!

      Always at your service.

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    • So no offence was intended. Simply a statement that taking multiple quotes together invalidates the theory that Series 10 quote was a joke.

      Oh, I didn't mean to imply that you intended any offence. I simply thought it plausible that in this gargantuan discussion you'd lost track of some of the arguments involved.

      For the record, I'm still not convinced that the Series 10 quote wasn't a joke. What has been proven is that gender is a fluid concept for Time Lords; that much is clear. But the particular statement in the Series 10 quote was that "[they]'re well past humans' petty obsession with gender and its stereotypes", against which Bill argued (and the Doctor had nothing to reply to that) that they still called themselves Time Lords as a species, calling attention to a stereotype of "males = in power". The joke being in the Doctor's rose-tinted statement being shot down by something so fundamental as the name of the species they're discussing.

      But again, those two nuggets of information (the one from the other quotes: that gender is famous fluid and complex for Time Lords, and the one from taking the Series 10 quote as a joke: that they are, despite the Doctor's claims, not free from the stereotypes associated with various genders) are not incompatible. It could very well be, just off the top of my head, that precisely because Time Lords can more-or-less-subconsciously elect to be any gender by their next regeneration, gender stereotypes are more widespread in their society than on real-life Earth, since they're way less offensive and objectionable when you're not denigrating anyone's fundamental nature but rather something they can change as easily as humans can change haircuts.

      Or, you know, a billion other possibilities. Going further than that would be Howling territory. But the Series 10 quote can still be a joke without putting the other quotes into question.

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    • By the way, there is another quote explaining the Time Lady thing. But I do not guarantee this one is serious.

      As incredible as that was, there was something else too. The Doctor's twelve previous bodies had all been male. Yaz's mind boggled every time she tried to picture the Doctor as a man - which she had been for over two thousand years. Knowing her now that just seemed mad. Although, it did explain one thing.

      'That's why you call yourself a Time Lord, not a Time Lady,' Yaz muttered.

      The Doctor had sharp ears. 'No, it's because "Time Lady" sounds like a watch you'd buy on the shopping channel.'The Doctor "explains" the Time Lady thing. [src]

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    • Though interesting, all this quote does is propose two possible explanations of why the Doctor describes himself/herself/themselves as a Time Lord. The Series 10 quote asks why the species as a whole calls itself Time Lords rather than Time Ladies. (Well, I say "species". The old "are all Gallifreyans Time Lords?" debate applies.)

      For what it's worth, whether a Time Lord in a female body will call themselves a Time Lady seems to be established as something that's up to personal taste among Gallifreyans. As I recall, Missy says she calls herself a Time Lady because she's "old-fashioned", implying it used to be the regular form for female Time Lords but fell out of favor at some point before the Deca's time.

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    • Agreed, this quote is useless despite being relevant. Still not giving it here would mean overlooking some evidence. Not all evidence is useful.

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    • I am planning out a lengthy reply to some of these comments soon, just so you two know I haven't died or anything. Just really busy at the moment. But thanks for the new and quite humorous quote, Amorkuz.

      NateBumber, could you please give us some context about that quote? Who is speaking? Is the speaker referring to the Doctor? What's going on exactly?

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    • I posted a comment, but do not see it... Hmm...

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    • That sometimes happens to people. It's usually a good idea, if you have a long message to post, to copy it before publishing it, just in case.

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    • Welp I’ll have to try to rewrite that whole thing at some point...

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    • Well, I rewrote it. Not as elegant as it was the first time, but I think I remembered everything I needed to address...

      Sure the Doctor has said individuals of other species wouldn’t understand him before, but this is the first time to my knowledge that she has said anything of the sort regarding Time Lord gender specifically. So it’s important to me to figure out in what way exactly she means the Time Lord concept of “man or woman” differs from human/loba gender in the “way” a human-built drone would understand it, as I don’t think it’s necessarily as clear and definitive as we’re assuming. There are very different and equally possible interpretations for what that “way” could be when just reading that quote in isolation with no other context.

      For instance, my first assumption would be that it might supposed to be clearly referring to the fact that Time Lords can spontaneously change sex with regeneration, meaning they could be both male and female at many different times throughout their lives. That of course differs from humans, as they are not basically just stuck with one sex from birth to death as we are, necessarily. But that only addresses the physical change and is thus not anything we don’t already know about, so that doesn’t help us any more in determining pronouns or anything.

      Another thought would be that, since she asks the drone to scan her again, if she actually expects it to be able to detect something about that through a second scan, the “way” she differs from how the drone would understand “man or woman” must be referring to an actual, anatomical difference. But that would be more of a species thing than a sexual thing (two hearts and such), so in that case the “man or woman in the way you understand it” comment would actually have to be an extension of her differentiating herself from the humans and the lobas, just elaborating on how she is in fact neither, but an entirely different thing, a Time Lord - the “man or woman” bit specifically being worth bringing up only because that is evidently the only thing the drone was scanning for, as opposed to seeing whether she was even human/loba at all to begin with. But once again, that wouldn’t tell us any more information than what we have already known and so couldn’t help us in determining pronouns.

      The other possibility is that the “man or woman” part of the quote is just more of a corrective aside not directly related to the explanation that she is not human/loba or to her request for another scan. In this case only could we attempt to derive information on using different pronouns from.

      So do you see my issue with the quote yet?

      Also, it seems you are operating under the understanding that there are plenty of quotes that support the “they” usage but that we’re only not sure because they might be jokes or might not apply universally, but I disagree. I assume you must be referring to the Fifth Doctor quote about gender being a fluid concept and the Twelfth Doctor quote about Time Lords being beyond gender and its stereotypes. Well, as for the Fifth Doctor quote, once again I must say that while of course Time Lords seem to be “gender fluid,” in a manner of speaking, in that their regenerations can literally make them change sex, they obviously do not exactly fit with the situation of those who believe themselves to be “non-gender-binary” in human terms. So, since none of the Time Lords we are discussing have ever identified as genderqueer in any way (though perhaps this new Thirteenth Doctor quote will be argued to change that in some way) and since, if they hypothetically were to, it still would not automatically mean they should be referred to individually as “they,” since some genderqueer individuals prefer to be called “he,” “she,” “ze,” etc., that quote does not support the “they” usage period.

      As for the Twelfth Doctor quote, once again, that has been thoroughly refuted both by the scene itself’s being written to “debunk” itself, as well as the countless instances throughout the show supporting the invalidity of that scene through consistently and blatantly showing many Time Lords expressing all kinds of gendered thinking and stereotypes. The Doctor there is written to be an unreliable narrator there in a situation played for laughs.

      And another issue I’m noticing is that we all seem to be failing to address the fact that the show has already established a pronoun system for how to refer to these Time Lords by its own dialogue that we are completely ignoring. There has to my knowledge yet to be anyone to disprove this system in order to even merit forming our own using “they” to begin with. Remember the Corsair being a he expect when he’s a she and the General considering being female back to normal and the Master always being the Master except when she’s the Mistress (which is also how this Wiki even treats the gendered name switch)? All of these examples and more are still just sitting there, contradicting the “they” idea and not being examined…

      And for future note, though I have still not seen series 11, I have heard there has been a few gender mixups and things of that sort from the Doctor, so I will be interested in discussing the implications of those once I see what they are and their contexts, and also if we eventually do end up determining “they” is the best English descriptor for this alien species in light of this new quote, we must not neglect to address the real issues of how to deal with the Master’s names and the fact that that will mean ALL Time Lords should be “they.”

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    • I really did not want to go all admin mode. I prefer it when the discussion develops naturally and I can sit back and provide relevant info. So I did not interfere when, after another admin reopened the thread based on my request to hold on for potential new information from the new season and after the admin who closed it affirmed that new information would, of course, be of interest but warned that we shouldn't rehash conversations that led to the current policy in the first place, when soon after that a post continued along the same line of rehashing old arguments, discussing, of all things, English language, which is not likely to have been affected by Series 11 all that much, and made quite a lot of accusatory remarks, which did not sit well with me, personally.

      So let me start from the end.

      Game-fanatic wrote: if we eventually do end up determining “they” is the best English descriptor

      You have it exactly backwards. We have already determined in Thread:152896 that they has to be used whenever source(s) do not provide a unique personal pronoun. This is a wiki-wide policy, and everyone has to follow it whether they like it or not, whether they agree with it or not, whether they participated in that discussion or not (see Tardis:You are bound by current policy if you have questions). In particular, since the Doctor is addressed as she in some stories (as the Thirteenth Doctor) and as he (as the First Doctor), then they have to be addressed by "they" by default and any deviation requires a justification. Same goes for the Master, for Kenossium, for the Corsair and for any other individual who has been addressed as both he and she.

      Anyone who thinks that in individual cases some sources can be ignored in favour of other sources has to give a rationale that does not conflict with our policy of giving "all media equal weight" (Tardis:Neutral point of view) and that is based on new, not yet discussed evidence. By now, three admin explicitly asked to search for such evidence. And some evidence has been provided. What I do not understand is why some participants of this discussion, instead of providing evidence in favour of he/she, argue against the evidence provided for they.

      The burden of proof is actually on the other side. You want to use he/she? Please provide new in-universe evidence why sources using she/he must be ignored. If you have not seen Series 11, which was the main rationale for reopening the thread, if you do not provide new evidence in favour of choosing he over she or she over he, then your posts do not bring anything new to the table. Once again, they is currently the law of the land. It need not be further justified. And, as someone with experience closing threads, I can tell you that you are only making the job of the closing admin harder without adding new information. And therefore, I would respectfully ask you to go and search for evidence in favour of he/she instead of trying to knock down new quotes reaffirming the old policy of using they.

      Admin-hat off.

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    • Well I appreciate your contributions whether your admin hat is on or off, so thank you either way. As for the post about the English language, that was a relevant part of the discussion that Soto made a point to bring up, so where assertions are made that I know to be questionable grammatically speaking, I will speak up. Apologies if and when I ever fail to do so in a non-accusatory way.

      As for the perspective of proving he/she versus proving they, my whole point in starting this thread was to show that the overwhelming majority of all of the evidence we have that is relevant to this issue in the show already inherently contradicts the they usage and supports he/she. The argument has been made pretty thoroughly, and much of the relevant dialogue dissected, and most of it points to he/she.

      Others have since proceeded to provide individual instances that lend evidence for they, but so far most of them have been questionable at best upon analysis or are coming from an argument being made almost exclusively based on out-of-universe information or ideas.

      I was simply continuing with this process how I see it has been going.

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    • I also should probably note that my writing style and just the way I organize my thoughts unfailingly sounds pretentious, as I have been told before, and so I do apologize about that. It is definitely not my intention if I am coming across that way, which I probably have been throughout this entire thread, no doubt.

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    • After reading through most of this, and the original thread, I still don't get why we would use "they" for refering to an individual. The in-universe mechanics of Time Lords changing gender are completely irrelevant to this discussion, the point is that any text that uses "they" (plural) to refer to a single person/object/thing/etc (singular) becomes completely unreadable.

      I understand the issue with refering to for example the Doctor (general) as "he" or "she" since there both male/female incarnations of the Doctor. But there are solutions to this issue that don't break the text. Simplest would be to just use "he/she" but that does look a bit funky. Other option would be to just pick the prevalent gender (12/13 male > 1/13 female = he). Or the first incarnation's gender (if known). I could probably think of more alternatives, but randomly switching to plural is not the way to go if you want the text to make sense.

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    • Admin note (for umpteenth time). Using "they" is the current policy of the wiki and is mandated for all users in cases discussed above. This thread is not about "randomly switching to plural". This thread is actually about randomly switching to singular in cases when the choice of such singular is unclear/unsupported by a narrative.

      Admin note 2 (again for umpteenth time). Discussions of "prevalent gender" should be accompanied by in-universe quotes confirming that the Doctor or other Time Lords (a) accept the concept of prevalent gender in principle and (b) explain how prevalent gender is ascertained for an individual.

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    • Amorkuz wrote: Admin note (for umpteenth time). Using "they" is the current policy of the wiki and is mandated for all users in cases discussed above.

      Sorry, I'm new...I read "our Panopticon is the home of our greatest policy debates." and assumed the purpose of this forum was to discuss policy. If not then what is it for and where would one go to discuss policy?

      Amorkuz wrote: This thread is not about "randomly switching to plural". This thread is actually about randomly switching to singular in cases when the choice of such singular is unclear/unsupported by a narrative.

      Please clafiry, as I understand from reading the thread it is about refering to the Doctor (a singular entity) as "they" (a plural pronoun). Actually, to be a bit more accurate the OP is about the misuse of pronouns creating problems in terms of readability, which is also what my comment was about.

      Anyway, in essence my point is that this policy of using non-standard grammar is making the wikia harder to read (especially for non-native English speakers such as myself) and therefor I think it would be a good policy proposal to use 'regular' english pronouns.

      I really don't see how in-universe information affects fundamental grammar, we're writing this in English for a real world human audience therefor the basic langauge used should be English (either UK/US standard, take your pick) and any non-English should be taken directly from the show not just made up by the users or taken from some obscure random dialect that has no bearing on the show.

      EDIT: I didn't go into the "prevalent gender" thing that deeply because it was just an example, not the main point of the comment. Off the cuff suggestions to illustrate a further point don't need citations imho.

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    • This thread IS to discuss policy. However, by Tardis:You are bound by current policy, the current policy remains in force unless this debate is concluded (by an admin) with a decision to change it. You erroneously assumed that this thread tries to introduce "they" to the wiki. In fact, the opposite is true. The use of they has been decided several years ago in Thread:152896. Everything written in the last post of that thread, including the note from SOTO is the current policy and must be adhered to.

      This thread is, indeed, about changing this current policy of using "they" in referring to the Doctor and other multigendered individuals (Time Lord or not). It appears that the OP was under the same erroneous impression as you, which explains why your reading of the OP does not give you a current picture of the wiki policies. This is why, as an admin, it is my job to clarify it to you and all participants.

      If you believe that the current usage of "they" has to be changed, you need to provide an easily implementable mechanism of choosing another pronoun, that relies on in-universe sources. The argument that, out of four 3rd person pronouns, "they" magically makes things unreadable has been discussed before the current policy has been decided and, therefore, should not be brought to this discussion by T:POINT (even though it has already been addressed upthread). In order to change the current policy, one has to provide new arguments in favour of changing.

      Off-the-cuff remarks not supported by persuasive in-universe justifications, in fact, refuted my multiple in-universe quotes provided above, will rightfully be ignored by the closing admin. Thus, I strongly discourage users from issuing them as they do not help anyone and make the work of the closing admin unnecessarily harder.

      To further address the concerns of User:DW114, they mostly stem with their unfamiliarity with this wiki's policies (incidentally, one of such policies is to use "they" referring to persons whose gender is unknown to the poster, which is the most common situation among editors). When DW114 write "should be English (either UK/US standard, take your pick)", they go against the established policy of this wiki to use British English. Their comment about in-universe information being irrelvant to the discussion is equally misinformed as in-universe information always takes prevalence over the real world as per T:NO RW.

      Finally, as for "obscure random dialect", I strongly recommend DW114 to take their time to read all the threads linked to above. This wiki can boast of quite educated editors who do proper research before posting. In course of such research done in earlier threads, the use of "they" in standard English has been found to go several hundred years back. There are sources and discussions galore. I encourage DW114 to familiarise themselves with this accumulated knowledge before extending this already extremely long thread to the point that no admin will ever be able to close it.

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    • Nevermind, I understand now. If as a moderator you are this incapable of reading a simple post there is no way wikia policy will make sense. To clarify:

      Both me and the OP clearly understand this is current policy and want to talk about changing this, you somehow missed that and assumed we assumed this thread tried to introduce the "they" thing, which is in itself a bit of a paradox.

      I'm also a bit offended you reply to me in the third person as if I'm not in this conversation.

      Anyway, don't bother banning me, I'll ban myself thank you very much. Good luck with your raging insanity.

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    • After this short intrusion into our policy debates by a user who has not made a single substantive edit to the wiki, I hope we can return to discussing the matter substantively.

      A note to make the work of the closing admin simpler: per T:DISCUSS, Users who are mostly here to use our discussion areas may find that their opinions on how to actually edit the wiki are discounted. It's important that your editing with us be well-rounded if you want your opinions in our forums to be taken seriously. Thus, all above posts of User:DW114, who has zero editorial experience, can safely be disregarded.

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    • Since I've been reminded of the existence of this thread for unrelated reasons, here is another in-universe quote. Credit goes to SOTO for unearthing it:

      'No, thanks.' Sam was surprised to find she did not need to think about the answer. 'There's some stuff I need to do here.'

      'Oh?'

      'I can't explain. You wouldn't understand.'

      'Oh?'

      'Yes.' Why did she suddenly feel on the defensive?

      'Because I'm a man and you're a woman?'

      'Yes, actually.'

      The Doctor raised his eyebrows. 'But I'm not a man.'

      Sam opened her mouth to speak, then shut it again.

      He continued, 'I'm not even human. Not even close. Not unless you count the ears.' He wiggled them to make his point.Beltempest (published 1998) [src]

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    • I fully concur with Amorkuz and current policy. Makes perfect sense and is perfectly readable.

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    • My two cents (or maybe I should say six cents since I have three main points to make):

      The following sentence comes from The Doctor's grandmothers:

      "According to the Thirteenth Doctor, the Doctor had seven grandmothers in their youth."

      This is extremely misleading. "The Doctor" is singular, "grandmothers" is plural; and yet the "their" goes with the singular noun. Are/were the grandmothers in their youth? This kind of sentence is why I adamantly oppose the so-called "singular they", no matter how acceptable some in the field of grammar consider it. And honestly, after more than a decade of teaching grammar, I've never seen it used this way.

      The truth is, this wiki is not for us. Most wikis are edited by probably less than 10% of the people who visit. That's why some of our policies seem to make no sense - they are aimed at the majority, that is, the readers of the wiki. We have a lot of knowledge about the DWU but I think many editors fail to understand that most viewers of this wiki do not have that detailed knowledge. Confusing syntax and grammar should be the last thing we want to see on the wiki.

      Lastly, User:Amorkuz has cited T:DISCUSS as a reason to ignore a new user's posts above. However, that is taking the policy to a (very unwelcoming) extreme. My experience is that we have a lot of new users come to the forums first, probably because they want to engage in discussion about Doctor Who. It's important to make sure these new users feel welcome here and help them understand how the wiki works.

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    • It makes perfect sense to say it that way. I have not a single problem reading that sentence and it is very clear what it refers to.

      Also, Amorkuz tried to be nice to the user and tried to explain the policy of the wikia, but when you are called insane, the ball of niceties drop heavily and it is perfectly acceptable that Amorkuz had had enough.

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    • Shambala108 wrote: The following sentence comes from The Doctor's grandmothers:

      "According to the Thirteenth Doctor, the Doctor had seven grandmothers in their youth."

      Sticking my nose in here where it doesn't really belong (that snippet from T:DISCUSS is particularly relevant in my case as a long-time forum dweller), but I believe that any confusion coming from that sentence comes from the fact that that sentence is a poor sentence, not because of the singular "they".

      Consider if the sentence were instead:

      "According to blah, Rose had a grandmother in her youth."

      (Note that I'm not sure that's an accurate statement, just one inserted for demonstration)

      The exact same issue arises here from having two female characters, either of whom could be referred to by "her" and both of whom had a "youth". Given the context, you can take a good guess that "her" is referring to Rose in my sentence, just like you'd probably guess that "they" is referring to the Doctor in Shambala's sentence. While you can take a good stab at the intended meaning, if it were a question on DWA, it'd probably be tagged for deletion for being too vague (not that you guys are bound by or care about DWA, but given the many, many, many questions that need to be deleted for vagueness over there, it's fine-tuned my "vague" alarm quite a bit).

      Some better ways to word the same sentence to remove the ambiguity while still using the singular "they" could be:

      • According to the Thirteenth Doctor, the Doctor had seven grandmothers when they were younger.
        • In this instance, using "when they were younger" instead of "in their youth" makes the last part of the statement less applicable to the grandmothers, therefore associating the "they" more closely with the Doctor.
      • When the Doctor was in their youth, they had seven grandmothers, according to the Thirteenth Doctor.
        • By moving the reference to the grandmothers after the "they", there is only one person available who "they" could apply to.

      Or, you could sidestep the vagueness from having two "they"s by changing one "they" back into a "she" through context (given individual Doctor's have well-defined pronouns):

      • The Thirteenth Doctor mentioned that she had seven grandmothers in her youth.

      These are only a few examples of grammatically correct sentences which would express the concept of Thirteen having seven grandmothers, none of which requires assigning a non-"they" third person singular pronoun to the Doctor as a whole. Yes, it can be more awkward, but it's the same as any sentence talking about two males or two females.

      Unless we want to replace all pronouns with initials or some other non-standard pronoun substitute, we're going to be stuck with the ambiguity of having only 3 pronouns to refer to thousands of characters in who knows how many combinations. That doesn't mean that we should remove one of those pronouns; we just need to learn how to write less vague sentences!

      Now let me crawl back into my hole to not appear again for another year :)

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    • I was planning to switch back to serious things, but my points are being made/reinforced by others (thanks Imamadmad, I couldn't have put it better myself) and, if an editor who is older than me applies my admittedly harsh evaluation of one user onto them, clearly I have to apologise to this long-time editor and explain myself better.

      Everyone is welcome on the wiki in general and on the forums in particular. In fact, the very existence of this thread is a testament to how seriously we treat questions and opinions of even the most novice of editors. The OP to this day has only 69 edits, of which only 14 are in the main namespace. No one has ever disregarded their concerns because of that, nor should we. While much of the discussion, unfortunately, does repeat points thoroughly discussed in preceding two threads on this topic, it is not the fault of the OP, and much new material has been provided regardless.

      The above-mentioned passage from T:DISCUSS has never been intended for regular use. In fact, there are very few circumstances where its use is warranted. Certainly not for a user in their 8th year on the wiki. In fact, I will go as far as to say that as long as a user is ready to engage in the discussion and provides thoughtful output, their ideas should not be ignored.

      Unfortunately, this was not the case with DW114. They came into the discussion late on, said nothing new and decided to leave in their 3rd post on the wiki, ending with something that might be a personal attack against me or disparaging remark towards the whole wiki (the context for "ranging insanity" is not clear enough). To be absolutely clear, if this remark was issued towards any user other than me, a ban for violating Tardis:No personal attacks would have been immediate. Both Shambala108 and I have blocked people for much milder expressions.

      There is, therefore, no reason to take posts of this user into consideration as they've taken themselves out of consideration and as they have shown disrespect to opinions of the whole community, by calling the community decision currently in force "randomly switching to plural". Operating on "my way or highway"-paradigm, they've taken the highway voluntarily after 2 posts.

      Ans still, were there anything new in their posts, I would not have invoked T:DISCUSS. As it is, they did not bring a single new argument to the table (despite claiming to have read through this and preceding discussions). The "prevalent" gender has been brought up upthread as "dominant/predominant/natural" gender. And claims that it is confusing to use "they" have both been issued multiple times before in all three threads and are useless without specific examples. Now that Shambala108 provided such an example, the discussion immediately moved on.

      Closing a thread of 100+ posts as this one is soon to become is hard, and distractions like this make it only harder. Since DW114 had nothing new to say and slammed the door on saying anything ever again, the most reasonable course of actions is to ignore them, which is allowable under T:DISCUSS. And the closing admin would benefit from knowing this.

      To summarise, none of the admin (including me) proposes or intends to ignore users based on their number of posts. But it can be done, when the situation warrants it, and this was one of such rare cases.

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    • Shambala108
      Shambala108 removed this reply because:
      leave these determinations to admins
      14:31, January 10, 2019
      This reply has been removed
    • Don't really have much to say here beyond what's already been said. Obviously, even setting aside the pronoun concerns so aptly identified by Imamadmad, there are plenty of places around the wiki where language is ambiguous and has lead to misunderstandings. While no one would say that these shouldn't be minimized, that's an obligation of the editors, not the policy. Evidence propounds that "they" has been used as a singular gender-neutral pronoun for centuries, and it's obvious that language is only moving further in that direction. Hence, I think this is the best solution to the problem, and I fail to see any other viable solution at all.

      Anyone who doesn't see the inadequacies in referring to the Doctor in general as "he" should keep in mind that our considerations need not be limited to the Doctor's past. Various valid sources outside the TV show have hinted at incarnations in the Doctor's future, and by no means are they all male. Eg the novelisation of Rose, which mentions not just Capaldi and Whitaker but also a "tall, bald black woman" and "a young girl or boy in a hi-tech wheelchair" among the Doctor's future forms and faces!

      (And these problems are just more pronounced when we realize that the Doctor might have had early incarnations before the First Doctor. Cold Fusion hints that there were further faces beyond the Brain of Morbius ones, and we have no clue about what their genders were. Of course, that's kind of speculatory, so I won't belabour the point.)

      Now, briefly addressing the recent upflairs. Searching through this thread and acrostic the site as a whole, I'm still not really seeing any significant reason to question our current policy, which has worked just fine on pages like The Master for the last several years. Experiences while moderating Reddit's Doctor Who communities have left me painfully aware of public outcry over the Thirteenth Doctor's casting, particularly in regards to gender. No doubt, the pervasiveness of that conversation is why this is thread has become such a hot topic of debate. Scenarios like these are when it's most important for cool-headedness and even enforcement of the rules, and I applaud Amorkuz for maintaining this. Ultimately, regardless of what is decided – or even if this thread is left to just rack up posts for the rest of eternity – I hope we can all agree to maintain civility. Successful resolution depends on it.

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    • Although this is my first contribution to the thread, I've been following it from the very beggining, and one argunent I've seen a few times is that the "most prevalent" gender of a Time Lordshould determine whether to use "he" or "she" to refer the them as a whole. Aside from the already given arguments to debunk it, a portion of T:IU and T:POV came to my mind:

      "Articles about narrative elements — also called "in-universe articles" — are written as if the topic were real, but one that no longer exists"

      That would mean we're not dealing only with Hartnell - Capaldi vs Whittaker incarnations here. We're talking about them + a bunch of future incarnations, which means that we can't possibly (as far as those policies are written now) say the Doctor's had a "more prevalent gender", now will we ever can.

      I'm also in favour to keep current policy as is: if we know a Time Lord has had at least one male and one female (and/or at least one which is neither) then we refer to them in general as "they"

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    • Wow, I don’t why I keep missing notifications for this thread! Well, anyway, I would just like to thank all of the admins and other users here trying to keep order even when figuring out how to do that right gets tricky!

      I would also just like to respond to the idea that has been mentioned regarding the dominant gender idea not being consistent with the Wiki’s policies on an objective, end-of-universe perspective. I don’t see how there is any more problem going with the dominant or birth gender system of pronoun use under our perspective rules on this Wiki than there is with how we have only up to the Thirteenth Doctor represented in the Wiki even though there will be more to come that we will have to add later, or how the Doctor’s personal history is only recorded up to the most recent episode of the show, or how the Sonic Screwdrivers are referred to as the X Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver initially even though it might eventually become known as the X and X Doctors’ Sonic Screwdriver.

      As for the conclusion that “they” is the clear best option grammatically speaking, once again I would like to point out that that is not really a perfectly accurate representation of the true complexities behind the situation, and it might not in fact be the best option in all cases, necessarily.

      But that Beltempest quote is VERY interesting. A bit more vague and not elaborated upon than I would have preferred, but very good. Though I suppose one could argue that it is not meant to be taken literally, given the nature of the Doctor’s description of his inhumanness there, the distinction given to both “man” and “human” definitely does to me suggest something more like the view of gender described by 12 to Bill. But if we are to then take that scene with 12 more seriously, that still does not help much with the “they” pronoun argument, since, as has been explained before, that scene does still support a he/she usage as opposed to they.

      Also, just a reminder of the gendered precedent that the show has pretty consistently set with multi-sexed Time Lords and the inevitable consequences to the rest of the characters and things indirectly affected by that (namely how to deal with the Master’s name switching which supports the he/she distinction and the fact that that will mean ALL Time Lords should be “they” regardless of whether they’ve ever regenerated into the other sex or not).

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    • Game-fanatic, this quote (again found by SOTO) is given in extended format to provide enough context to show that this time there is not even a hint of a joke:

      The Doctor swallowed the last of the bread, and pushed his plate away from him. There was no point in doing that, seeing as there weren't any waiters around, but he obviously felt it was important to maintain a sense of etiquette.

      'Can I ask you something personal?' he said.

      I.M. Foreman nodded. 'I warn you, though. If it's anything to do with how I got this body, the details are going to be messy. You've never been a woman, have you?'

      'I'm not sure I've ever even been a man. That's not what I was going to ask.'

      'Go on.'

      He leaned forward across the plates, and across the bottled universe that lay in the grass between them. His eyes were glinting again. Sure to be a bad sign.

      'Are you still a believer?' he asked.Interference - Book 1 (published 1999) [src]

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    • Well once again, if we are to take this quote to mean Time Lords have no concept of gender, that doesn’t remove all the gendered language and thought they consistently use throughout the show. So I guess it’s a matter of writing one of these sources off, the show or the novels? Or perhaps there is a way both can work together at the same time; I believe when I originally dissected the scene between 12 and Bill I mentioned the possible interpretation that perhaps the Time Lords don’t base all of the things relating to gender strictly on biology. But that still doesn’t really say much for a “they” usage...

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      • ...perhaps the Time Lords simply base all...
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    • It's not in-universe, but the new DWA Special (previewed online; I can't find a place to buy it) uses singular they to refer to the Doctor in general:

      "The Doctor is famous for their awesome ability to regenerate."

      It's in an out-of-universe segment with facts about the Doctor, which otherwise uses she/her to discuss the latest incarnation specifically. Like 13D 0 before it, though, it establishes that these official publications have opted to use they/them for the Doctor when discussing them generally, and he/him or she/her for specific incarnations, just as we have.

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    • Aw, phooey. It indeed looks like "they" is becoming accepted. Oh well.

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    • If it would just be accepted by the show, that would make things simpler

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    • (Please note that we give all media equal weight here.)

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    • Right, I'm just referring to the current dilemma of most of the in-universe content seeming to not do much in the way of supporting a "they" usage, while some out-of-universe stuff is explicitly doing so.

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    • Well, actually the show starting to use singular "they" for the Doctor would have exactly zero bearing on this thread. This is why I keep reminding everyone that singular "they" is already a policy. What you mean by "If it would just be accepted by the show, that would make things simpler" is "If it would just be accepted by the show, that would make it simpler for me to accept the current policy". But objectively the policy requires no further justification.

      I feel that I bear the responsibility for the prolonged existence of this thread, twice. You see, it should have been closed from the get-go by T:POINT. The awkwardness/ambiguity has been covered in Thread:152896 and SOTO's note at the end applies literally to both the Master and the Doctor (the former being a woman for quite some time by the time of that thread's closure). And restarting old discussion without any material difference in circumstance or new arguments does not warrant a repeat discussion.

      I hasten to emphasise, in light of the preceding happenings, that it was not Game-fanatic's responsibility to bring this up but mine.

      Unfortunately, two things happened. The argument about dominant gender was brought up and in such a way that I felt was not supported if not downright contradicted by in-universe sources. And, frankly, knowing the policy regarding the Doctors, I forgot where it stemmed from, until SOTO brought it up.

      When SOTO closed this thread as a duplicate of existing discussions, they were right through and through as, by that time, nothing changed in DWU since 2017 to upset the current policy. The thread was reopened not because new evidence came to light but because it could have come to light, which is not really how T:POINT works. And it was my enthusiasm for in-universe research that prompted the reopening, my second mea culpa.

      Still, as Shambala108 said upthread, one can err on the side of welcome and indulge new users even against the letter of the policy. The wait was not too onerous and I went along with it.

      That wait is over, by the way, and nothing going against the current policy has surfaced. On the contrary, a couple of quotes undermining the overgenderisation of Time Lords have been found (some by yours truly). While comic stories will continue to be released regularly, it is exactly against the infinite wait for something coming out of them that T:POINT is intended. When (and if) an in-universe source would violate the current policy, then there will be a basis for returning to this discussion.

      Having said that, there were certainly additional points and suggestions made by various participants that can be added to the wiki lore in the closing argument. We just have to wait for an admin who has not participated yet to come around and write it. If I have time I might try to summarise everything that was brought up for their consumption.

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    • Amorkuz wrote: And restarting old discussion without any material difference in circumstance or new arguments does not warrant a repeat discussion.

      Whether the new arguments were convincing is another matter, but there certainly were new arguments not covered in Thread:152896: off the top of my head, Game-fanatic's original theory that Time Lords had a dominant gender, and my argument that the current policy (which refers to characters of fluid or unknown gender) did not apply to Time Lord, as Time Lord gender was neither, but yet another beast.

      That in-universe evidence against Game-fanatic and my positions was later found does not invalidate the fact that new arguments/evidence were brought up. I refuse to see this thread closed on T:POINT when it didn't in fact fail to bring new things to the table. This has happened before with other threads and is extremely unpleasant whenever it happens.

      By all means this thread should be closed, but because the new points have been addressed and we have found the current policy was correct after all even in the face of the new ideas — not because the discussion was just reopening the same old debate that had already been concluded.

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    • I'll be sure to include these two in my summary then. And no, threads of 100 posts are not generally closed on T:POINT. That train has left a long time ago. (The first closure of this thread was not a T:POINT closure either as it cited new evidence.)

      PS And thank you for trying to absolve me of my first mea culpa. :) Perhaps, if not memory, then instinct served me right then.

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    • So correct me if I’m wrong, but we still have no in-universe prescription for referring to Time Lords generally with “they”; it is primarily being done out of out-of-universe ideas being brought into the show. So what’s the problem? The only pronouns we have ever heard any Time Lords ever use/accept are “he” or “she”; and the only in-universe instances there have been of referring to Time Lords with general pronouns suggest still using “he” or “she.” Heck, we even have slightly dubious descriptions of how Time Lords - or in some cases perhaps only the Doctor - view gender (or rather, don’t at all) that even still in themselves continue to support the he/she usage either directly or through simply not specifying any difference from how the he/she pronouns have been used up to that point. So so far I would still argue the “rule #1” idea of generally following the lead of what the majority of in-universe pronouns suggest that we have for some reason not been following in this case is still not in favor of “they.” And that’s not to saying anything about the secondary consequences that have not been addressed relating to this decision and the grammatical issues connected with it (which I of course agree would ultimately have to be trumped by a story’s explicit prescription of using the “they” pronoun, such as in the case of a character like Orr, for example). Furthermore, series 11 arguably did present some even more evidence of the gendered thought Time Lords have been shown to experience the whole time, with the Doctor’s forgetting to switch her pronouns. The he/she usage has been supported consistently through and through.

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    • Just to be clear on how the previous thread ended, it was established that we should generally try to use whatever pronouns are given in the narrative, but if a character like Alpha Centauri is "he" in one story, "it" in another, and still yet "she" in a third story, based on arbitrary decisions on part of the characters, we go with singular they, especially when speaking generally. Or indeed if no clear pronouns are given for a character, and it is left ambiguous.

      And the reason they/them is the default is simply: that's how English works, or certainly how it has developed. But even real world English aside, especially in a fictional universe with all sorts of different genders, particular species established as having no gender or no fixed gender, etc., it would be simply nonsensical to assume that either "he" or "she" must always apply. "He or she" is not gender-neutral; it only allows for two options. As the First Doctor says when Ian and Barbara are desperately trying to determine genders for the Torcaldians, it's a big universe and we must "cast aside these preconceptions".

      And characters like Orr specifically using singular they as a personal pronoun establishes that they/them is absolutely the established singular gender-neutral pronoun in the DWU, so you can’t base an argument on it being somehow "incorrect", because even the Doctor Who universe does not agree.

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    • Okay, that all sounds well and good, and perhaps I would agree in other circumstances (though Orr seems to be a different case altogether, and Alpha Centauri seems to be a bit questionable, too, grammatically, in that it didn’t identify as “they,” but perhaps I am lacking context, as I am less familiar with that character), except for the fact that in this one the show HAS already prescribed the specific pronouns to be used.

      Grammatically speaking, “they” is not just “how English works”; it’s actually very dicey territory and highly dependent on individually specified circumstances and does indicate a specifically genderqueer identification, as I laid out in greater depth before. As for the theory that within the DWU that is the grammatically correct term, nowhere in Aliens Among Us is that confirmed from what I recall; there are no grammarians in the show. The characters simply use “they” (and sometimes “it”) because that’s what they personally decide is most applicable in that instance, as opposed to sticking with either “he” or “she” in this confusing situation which happens to be quite different from that of the Doctor’s. It seems to me that the Time Lords, however, have in fact been prescribed a specific, gendered system of pronouns from what we’ve seen so far that they themselves use. And the real world grammatical basis for a “they” usage does not apply as it does with Orr, since unlike Orr, those Time Lords haven’t expressed the actual preference to be referred to as anything other than “he” or “she,” but have in fact reinforced those terms and used them for general reference based apparently on birth/dominant sex, which makes sense when looking at the individuals from an overall historical perspective, seeing as the only deviations are at this point nothing more than minor exceptions to an otherwise very consistent and longstanding truth of their biologies.

      Even using “he/she” (or “she/he” in the cases where the primary sex is female) for the Time Lords that have changed sex would be a radically more accurate and consistent method with the show’s established patterns and with the way the Wiki already treats these characters as it is now than the “they” alternative. The only reason I have been somewhat resistant to “he/she,” though, is of course because of its clunkiness, but perhaps there could be a way to minimize that drastically in order to prevent that clunkiness from being an issue.

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    • Everyone’s input into this thread has been appreciated and valuable.

      But as Scrooge MacDuck has pointed out:

      "By all means this thread should be closed, but because the new points have been addressed and we have found the current policy was correct after all even in the face of the new ideas — not because the discussion was just reopening the same old debate that had already been concluded."

      Indeed, I'm not particularly convinced by any previous claim in this thread that T:POINT matters as much in this case as it might do to other issues.

      Language is an evolutionary — not a revolutionary — thing. Previous decisions were made on the basis of what was then a rare occurrence in this fandom: multi-gendered, un-gendered, or just differently-gendered characters. And they were certainly taken before the genuine advent of the thirteenth Doctor.

      I therefore think it was good, right, and proper that we revisited this issue during and after transmission of the eleventh series. We collectively did right by trying to draw some inspiration from the series that most directly challenged our assumptions about our fandom’s central character.

      Still, we shouldn’t claim that in-universe concerns hold the only key to our editorial choices. After all, we rather unusually write our articles in the past tense, which has nothing to do with either “good grammar” or “what’s done on the show”.

      What this discussion proves is that there is no single right answer on this issue. Critics of the current policy have argued cogently why that policy fails; supporters have brought to bear what to me is equally convincing logic. But both sides can point to academic, cultural and sometimes even in-universe evidence to support their case.

      So let’s be clear: this is us making a choice not “being right” or “using better English” or any of that. Both the “singular they” and the “always-plural they” are, in a defensible way, “correct”.

      So I don’t want people on either side to feel like they are either right or wrong.

      
But at a certain point, we as an administrative staff need to pick between global variations in the English language because the Doctor Who franchise plays all around the world.

      This is something we’ve done on multiple occasions:

      • We’ve chosen to enforce British English, but we counsel the American use of double quotation marks
      • We’ve chosen to use italics for episode titles, even though that’s not widely done
      • We’ve chosen to use sentence case, even though other media outlets might use title case

      Like any editorial staff on any publication in the world, we have a duty to establish and maintain a manual of style.

      What this discussion proved is that, although the arguments on both sides are valid, there’s nothing from the most recent series, or coverage of it by the wider press, which throws up an obvious roadblock to our choice to include usage of the “singular they” on this wiki. If anything, usage of the “singular they” in the coverage of Doctor Who has accelerated in the last year or so — including amongst DWA, Titan and Fandom’s own staff writers.

      So, we’ll be sticking with the “singular they”.

      That said, this conversation must inform our usage.

      Some of our readers are going to find the singular they massively unclear, especially when the subject of a sentence is singular and the object is plural. “The Doctor told their companions that they were special” is, for instance, ambiguous. Where possible, editors should try to speak about specific incarnations, using a gendered pronoun appropriate to that incarnation, or for the incarnation recalling their past lives.

      If you’re an editor here, you may find it helpful to sometimes sidestep the pronoun issue entirely. Replace “they” with “the Time Lord” or “the Doctor”. Or, do what SOTO suggested upthread. Concentrate on the incarnation that’s recounting the past, rather than the regeneration that performed the remembered action. For instance, this is just fine:

      “The Doctor remembered that she had ordered a fez a long time ago. ([[TV]]: ''[[Kerblam! (TV story)|]]'')
      

      If series 11 has taught us anything, it’s that the concept of gender definitely exists in both the narrative and in the press coverage about the programme. So we’re obviously not getting rid of gendered pronouns when talking about an incarnation, or several incarnations of the same gender.

      Therefore I don’t want this to be some signal that we need to go out and rewrite every line of every page on the wiki, or anything like that. Instead this is a narrower, but important, refinement to our manual of style. What we’re saying here is, when referring to gender-flexible characters in toto, the "singular they" is preferred. Equally, when talking about real life people who are gender-fluid or non-binary, we should use the pronouns for which that person has expressed a preference — but quite often, that will be the "singular they".

      I also want to encourage people to actually review the situation in individual cases. I think it’s fine for people to have discussions on individual talk pages about particular sentences, in spite of all this conversation. This thread, and others before it, do not mean that individual sentences are beyond review. The object with editing is always to try to come up with the clearest sentence structure, while at the same time keeping our use of our evolving language current.

        Establishing interface with the TARDIS
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