Gender-neutral and/or non-binary alternatives to fangirl/fanboy

I found myself thinking recently about the lack of gender neutral or non-binary language for the terms fangirl and fanboy. I understand that ‘fan’ is actually gender neutral, but it doesn’t transfer to the verb form very well – ‘fanning out’ doesn’t quite work like ‘fangirling out’ does.

Anyway, a combination of googling and a call-out to my friends on facebook produced some pretty great options, and I wanted to share them here!

I only found one specifically non-binary term, but I’m ok with that because I kind of love it:

  • fanby. It’s a portmanteau of fan and enby, and I think it’s lovely.

Even given that, though gender neutral options are useful for talking a collective groups of fanbies, fangirls, and fanboys. So here’s the highlights of what my awesome friends (plus google) turned up:

  • Fanbody. I’m not even sure what I like about this one, but it definitely works. Fanbodies works too.
  • Fanchild/Fankid. I like that these linguistically matches boy/girl to some extent. They also seem to be what my enby friends use for the most part, so! I find fanchildren weirdly hilarious, and definitely like fankids as well.
  • Fanfolk. Or alternatively, fannish folk. This is only useful in the plural sense, I think, but I quite like it for that.
  • Fanpeep. So cute! Fanpeeps is also fab.

What do y’all think? Any other ideas?

5 comments

  1. I’ve reached the age where fangirl feels wrong because I’m not a girl, I’m a woman. Where saying people are fangirling over a male character sounds too heteronormative, like it’s all about how hot he is, obviously because they’re girls even if you’d also use the verb in other contexts.

    I remember people talking about how some specific fandoms have gender neutral terms for their fans: Oncers in the OUaT fandom, Gleeks for Glee, etc.

    I like the idea of saying a person is squeeing over something rather than fangirling over it.

    I like fannish folks and maybe singular could be fannish person. I also don’t mind “person in fandom” or “member of the ___ fandom”…

    I like of course the more specific terms too. I’m first and foremost a vidder, then a podficcer, then a fanfiction writer/reader (also fanvideo watcher/consumer, podfic appreciator/listener) – I’m not a fan artist personally some very talented people create drawings and other traditional and graphic art in fandom – all gender neutral terms and all more specific to what you’re usually talking about anyway. Fandom isn’t a monolith. “Twitter fandom” refers to both an environment and a specific group of people. It’s different than “tumblr fandom”, “YouTube fandom” etc etc.

    I don’t usually want a word specific to my gender when it comes to my identity in fandom. I love acknowledgement of the actual statistics and demographics on different subspaces but that’s a different context than just saying fanboy or fangirl.

    1. Oh yes! Thanks for bringing up the issue of fangirl/boy being kind of infantilizing. It was a weird aspect of my search here that I kind of *wanted* some neutral/non-binary options that actually had that same youthful (to give it a positive spin :P) connotation, but I think it’s also great that a lot of the options are more ageless.

      I am also all about gender neutral fandom-specific terms for sure! Or any fandom-specific terms tbh.

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