Gender Neutral Language in Transgender Communities

In a society built around gendered language, there is seldom enough linguistic “room” left for those who identify outside of the binary gender system. Queer and transgender communities have begun to identify the need for gender neutral language that will aid them in expressing non-binary identities; however, the question remains whether or not suitable gender neutral alternatives can be assimilated into linguistic structures, and whether there is a difference in this process (and the use and acceptability of neutral language) based on the grammatical gender system of the language in question.

Results of this study point to significant differences in transgender experiences in differing grammatical gender systems (such as the near impossibility to express certain identities in the grammatically gendered languages of French or German). This research also speaks to how we view the process of representation through language in the struggle against oppression and how this struggle (and the activism that surrounds it) must vary based on the linguistic context in which it takes place.

 

You may read the full research paper titles “Bucking the Linguistic Binary: Gender Neutral Language in English, Swedish, French, and German” in Western Papers in Linguistics

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