Zie/hir (pronounced “zee” and “hear”) are gender-neutral replacements for third person singular pronouns when one wishes to avoid specifying gender. Also used by many individuals who do not feel well represented by either he/him or she/her.
In this blog, I alternate between using she/her as the default (to counterbalance centuries of “he/him” being used as the default for all humans, and also because this is a woman-centric space), using they/them as a third person singular (this is a deliberate choice, not a grammatical error, as is my placement of most punctuation outside quotation marks), and using zie/hir.
I am most likely to use she/her when discussing things that primarily — but not exclusively — women do (such as birth, breastfeed, or caretake), they/them when discussing a hypothetical person of any gender, and zie/hir when discussing a specific person of unknown gender or who I know prefers those terms. However, an observant reader will notice that all three sets are largely used interchangeably here, and it primarily depends on my mood, whims, and subtle effects of tone I am trying to create. In other words, more or less at random.
One further note: I will use s/he and hir at times, but almost exclusively in reference to my own fetus. When I was pregnant with the Boychick, The Man and I chose to use those pronouns (pronounced the same as “she” and “her”) for our child-to-be of unknown sex, not wanting to use “it” to refer to our baby-in-utero, and having no desire to discover hir sex before birth. In writing, s/he and hir are obviously gender-non-conforming, but in speech they sound female. This was a deliberate attempt to recast the fetus as female-default, male-aberration; to turn on its head the kyriarchal assumption of male-default, female-aberration that permeates our society. However, in online feminist spaces, it is the more neutral-sounding zie and hir that have achieved relative popularity as the gender-neutral third person singular pronouns, and I happily accede to group agreement on that topic.