Gender neutral language

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Gender-neutral language, also called gender-inclusive language, is the practice of using words that don't give an idea of someone being female or male. For example, the word "fireman" gives the idea that a person in that work is male. An offer for a job as a "cleaning lady" gives the idea that only a woman should do the job. The gender-neutral alternatives are to say "fire fighter" and "janitor," respectively. Then it is easier to see that these jobs can be done by a person of any gender. Gender-neutral language is important in feminism, because changing the way that people talk can help make sexist ideas less common. For example, the sexist idea that some jobs should only be done by people of certain genders.

Gender-neutral language is also important to many people who have non-binary gender identities. For one reason, this kind of talk helps fight against nonbinary erasure, which is the common but wrong and sexist idea that there are only two genders. Since gender-neutral language doesn't give the idea that a person is male or female, it can also apply to people who identify as other genders, outside of the gender binary. Non-binary people can ask to be talked about in this way.

Chinese[edit | edit source]

See also: Glossary of Chinese gender and sex terminology.


  • tā. Verbally all gendered pronouns sound the same, and so they technically can be gender neutral.


  • 先生 (xian sheng). A gender neutral term to refer to a teacher, a new acquaintance with whom you are unfamiliar, or anyone with whom you are not on a first-name basis, though it is usually masculine-based.
  • 师傅 (shi fu). A gender neutral term, though it is usually masculine-based, conveying respect to someone if you don't know their name, and it means "master."
  • 老师 (lao shi). Standard word for teacher.
  • 博士 (bo shi). Standard word for professor.
  • 老板 (lao ban). Standard term for one's boss (say at work).

Family Terms

  • 孩子 (hai zi). Standard gender neutral term for child.


  • 服务员 (fu wu yuan). Standard word for server and/or gender neutral term for waiter/waitress.

Dutch[edit | edit source]

Family terms[edit | edit source]

Parent[edit | edit source]

  • Ouder. Neutral, formal.

Child[edit | edit source]

  • Baby. Standard neutral word for very young offspring or very young people.
  • Jonkie. Standard neutral word for young people.
  • Kind. Standard gender neutral word for a young person or an offspring. Implied age isn't adult, but may be.
  • Kleintje. Literally "little one", neutral word for a very young child or young offspring.
  • Kleuter. Neutral word for child that is ~3 to ~6 years old.
  • Peuter. Neutral word for child that is ~1 to ~3 years old.
  • Tiener. Neutral word for a child that is ~10 to ~18 years old.

English[edit | edit source]

This section has its own article at Gender neutral language in English.

French[edit | edit source]

See also: Glossary of French gender and sex terminology.

German[edit | edit source]

This section has its own article at Gender neutral language in German.

Hindi[edit | edit source]

See also: Glossary of Hindi gender and sex terminology.

Japanese[edit | edit source]

See also: Glossary of Japanese gender and sex terminology.

Korean[edit | edit source]

See also: Glossary of Korean gender and sex terminology.

Latin[edit | edit source]

Latin is essentially a historical language, but it is still used by a small but vibrant community worldwide. It starts to have some LGBT terminology, like "homophylophilia" (homosexuality), "propensio sexualis" (sexual orientation), "intersexualitas" (intersexuality), "identitas generis" (gender identity) etc., but modern neologisms remain a tricky issue in the language. Also, Latin traditionally makes extensive use of generic masculine, which is thus difficult to avoid. If one is ready to use terms that didn't exist in the classical language (or had a different meaning then), but have nevertheless been in use for centuries (e.g. "persona", "individuum"), it is possible to use a mix of terms of different grammatical genders and add other words as appositions aligned in gender in order to convey gender neutrality, e.g. "homo filius", "persona filia" and "individuum filium" in order to express "child" (in the sense of offspring). For "enby", "nebinium" has been proposed.[1]

Norwegian[edit | edit source]

Norwegian is a language with three grammatical genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter, but they have nothing at all to do with real gender. For example, "kvinne", which means "woman", "kusine", which means a female cousin, "jente", which means "girl", and "dronning", which means "queen", are all or can be masculine nouns. There are also a few odd words, such as romkamerat, an inclusive word meaning room-mate. The word "kamerat" means male friend.

Family terms[edit | edit source]

  • Ektefelle: An inclusive word for a spouse.
  • Barn: An inclusive word for a child.
  • Søskenbarn: An inclusive word for a cousin.
  • Forelder: A word for a parent.

Pronouns[edit | edit source]

  • Seg: An extremely common, standard word for "themself" or "themselves".
  • Si: The feminine possessive form of 'seg'. It indicates belonging to the subject, but not the gender/lack of gender of the subject (or even the object).
  • Sin: The masculine possessive form of 'seg'. Its function is similar to the function described above.
  • Sitt: The neuter possessive form of 'seg'. Its function is similar to the function described above.
  • Hen: An inclusive third-person pronoun. The Norwegian Language Council (Språkrådet) is unfavourable towards use of "hen" as a general gender-neutral pronoun in formal texts (while open to change should actual language use evolve), but advises to use it when requested by a nonbinary person. At that occasion, the Språkrådet uses "hen" also as object form and "hens" as genitive form.[2]

Other Types of Relationships[edit | edit source]

  • Venn: A standard word for "friend". "Kamerat" and "venninne", the other words, are binary.
  • Kjæreste: A person who is loved by another person, but not married to them.

Portuguese[edit | edit source]

See also: Glossary of Brazilian Portuguese gender and sex terminology, and Glossary of European Portuguese gender and sex terminology.

Russian[edit | edit source]

See also: Glossary of Russian gender and sex terminology.

Unlike English, Russian has three grammatical genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. While neuter allows some non-binary people adjectives to use, this gender is not ideal for non-binary people for grammatical reasons. The first is that most neuter nouns decline like masculine nouns. The second is that neuter animate nouns do not change in the accusative case, while both masculine and feminine nouns do. This implies that people using neuter words are not human.

Titles[edit | edit source]

госпожне Plural is "госпожня". Grammatical gender is neutral, and while in the singular it takes endings similar to the masculine.

Family Terms[edit | edit source]

-евче and -овче In Russian, rather than middle names, children have patronyms, or their father's first name with -евич/-ович (for boys) or -евна/-овна (for girls) added to the end. -евче and -овче are genderqueer endings for one's patronym. Alternatives include -евчен/-овчен (agender), -еви/-ови (multigender) and more.

Spanish[edit | edit source]

This section has its own article Gender neutral language in Spanish.

Swedish[edit | edit source]

A symbol of Swedish female, male, and neutral pronouns.

See also: Glossary of Swedish gender and sex terminology.

Traditionally, the word den has been used as a gender neutral pronoun and remains widely used today. However, depending on the context, the word den can also mean it leaving it unsatisfactory as a gender neutral pronoun for many who do not wish to be seen as comparable to an inanimate object. Since the 1960s, the person pronoun hen has become increasingly popular and will, in 2015, be added for the first time to Svenska Akademiens Ordlista (the Swedish equivalent to France's Dictionnaire de l'Académie française). It usage, however, remains somewhat contraversial and is vigorously opposed by some.

Pronouns[edit | edit source]

hen Standard gender neutral / third gender personal pronoun
hens Possive form of hen
henom Object form of hen

The object form of hen is sometimes just hens. It is very individual.

Thai[edit | edit source]

See also: Glossary of Thai gender and sex terminology.

External links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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