It turns out Sweden is good at more than making meatballs.

Swedish flag outside a restaurant in Stockholm, Sweden.
Swedish flag outside a restaurant in Stockholm, Sweden.
Photo by Linus Mimietz on Unsplash

When you think of Sweden, what comes to mind?

Probably meatballs, IKEA furniture, and ABBA. What you may not know about Sweden is its groundbreaking and thoroughly inclusive approach to gender-neutral pronouns.

In 2012, Sweden added the gender-neutral hen pronoun to its Swedish language dictionary. This small addition has had a huge impact.

What are Pronouns?

A pronoun is a word that substitutes for a noun or noun phrase. The most common pronouns in the English language include she/her/hers, he/him/his, and they/them/theirs.

My Experience with Pronouns in Sweden

I lived in Linköping, Sweden for about three and a half months in early 2020 as part of a university exchange…

Let’s unpack the myth of preferred pronouns

Creator: nadia_bormotova | Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

When I was filling out paperwork for an appointment, there was a section asking for “preferred” pronouns. My initial reaction was a positive one. I was pleased with this effort by the clinic to be more inclusive but something about the paperwork struck me as a bit odd with the word “preferred.” After thinking about this, I had a realization that nothing about pronouns is preferred.

Pronouns are self-ascribed and therefore a matter of choice rather than assignment. This is because of the way that gender is an internal concept based on how a person identifies. Assuming that the pronouns…

I dream of a world where I am free to love under the law.

Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

The US Senate must pass the Equality Act in order to finally provide consistent, explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people.

The Need for the Equality Act

While non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people exist at the state level in places like New York and my home state of Minnesota, there is no federal protection for individuals on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. Current civil rights laws have failed to protect LGBTQ+ people due to the lack of federal law which provides explicit protections for LGBTQ+ people. These gaps are allowing for injustices to fall through the cracks.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, the…

The next step in the fight for LGBTQ+ equality is here

Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call via AP Images

Next week the US House of Representatives will vote on The Equality Act (H.R.5), a sweeping amendment to the existing civil rights laws that will end legal discrimination against LGBTQ+ Americans.

What is The Equality Act?

According to the Human Rights Campaign, The Equality Act “would provide consistent and explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people across key areas of life, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service.

In May 2019, it passed in the House with a 236–173 vote, with a total of 8 Republican votes in support of The Equality Act. However, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch…

Now I read 1–2 books every week

The Stadsbiblioteket (my favourite library in Stockholm, Sweden).

In elementary school, a teacher told me that my comprehension and overall reading skills were terrible. As a result, at the impressionable age of seven, I decided to quit reading for good.

I didn’t read a book cover to cover for another 13 years.

My Journey Started with a New Year’s Resolution

In high school, I never read the assigned books because I didn’t think of myself as a reader. I would start but never finish books because it didn’t seem to matter. Besides… I’m not a reader, so why bother?

I have always been a good student. Taking advanced placement and honours courses throughout high school and…

From patient to donor in six months

The platelets and plasma I donated on October 10th, 2020.

I thought my headache was from the jetlag. Just 24 hours earlier I had returned to the US from Sweden where I was studying abroad.

The first symptom I experienced was a headache, unlike anything I had ever experienced. Then the body aches that kept me in bed for days started just before I spiked a fever and started coughing. At that point, there was so much unknown about the virus that I was never tested.

In July I donated blood with the American Red Cross and my COVID-19 antibody test came back positive.


This information confirmed…

ICE is threatening to deport 1 million+ international students if online classes ensue

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

In an announcement made up of less than 500 words (498 to be exact) the futures of over a million US-based international students have been jeopardized. In a statement released by the US Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) stating the following:

“Nonimmigrant F-1* and M-1* students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.”

This means over a million students are in danger of being deported if their university holds classes online this fall. …

Simple living requires balance, NOT minimalism

Photo by Christophe Hautier on Unsplash

My first taste of minimalism came from an article about a man that kept all of his belongings in a single suitcase. This extreme example of minimalism seemed crazy to me at the time as I read the article from my disastrously messy dorm room. Yet, something compelled me to learn more.

I studied minimalism for several weeks before I made a pile about as tall as I am of belongings I no longer used. I threw all the clothes, linens, and old books into bags and declared myself an aspiring minimalist.

It felt amazing to get rid of so…

Why it’s in your best interest to not be an a**hole.

In theory, it’s cool to be kind. In practice… it’s not that simple.

For most of my life, I believed that if you were doing well in life you could either be cool (i.e. successful, fashionable, and well-liked) or you could be kind. I tried my hand at stark individualism while having an identity crisis in middle school. I promptly accepted my lack of coolness and decided to be kind in my pursuit of success instead.

This formidable ideology about cool and kind being mutually exclusive is something that continues to shape the antagonistic rhetoric seen online and in-person today.

Unsolicited advice from an online shopper

You’ve probably seen them in your local grocery store. Scanning items one after another with their phone and then scurrying on to the next item. Their speed and efficiency can be a bit intimidating to your leisurely pace when you just wanted to grab a singular red bell pepper from the shelf without incident.

As the world seems to be changing with each passing day many consumers have turned to online grocery shopping either out of necessity or seeking ease during this time of uncertainty. …

Meghan Olson

She/They, LGBTQ+ advocate, bookworm, one of the top LGBTQ writers on Medium.

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