Gendered Languages

As I become more aware of trans issues and stories (and consider myself an active supporter of human rights), I’ve been thinking a lot about language as a whole and how we use it.

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I speak intermediate Spanish (I am not even close to being fluent, but I can communicate a little more than just the basics). Spanish is a gender-based language, which means that almost all nouns are assigned a gender – everything is either masculine or feminine. For example, “la mesa” means “the table”, which is assigned female as indicated by the -a ending, where as “el boligrafo” – “the pen” – is assigned masculine. Other gendered languages besides Spanish include French, Portguese, Italian, and many more.

English is not a gendered language, which is why our main obstacle for trans individuals in terms of language is pronouns. The other words that we use to describe people are gender-neutral for the most part (for example: tall, short, funny, crazy, etc.).

However, for any trans individuals who speak gendered languages, I imagine that they are constantly being reminded of the bi-gender system. In Spanish, if someone wants to describe a trans person as tall, would they say “alto” or “alta”? Short – “bajo” or “baja”? Crazy – “loco” or “loca”? The trans community in gendered languages have to navigate so much more than just pronouns, including adjectives as well.

Then there are some languages, like Chinese, who do not have pronouns at all – the language itself is almost gender-less as a whole. Some of the gender-less features of these languages focus more of the idea of an “it” rather than a “he/she”, which can be either helpful or problematic depending on how you look at it. To be honest, this isn’t something I have a whole lot of knowledge about but would be really curious to learn.

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Like I said, this is a topic where I have some knowledge to gain. If anyone has experiences in this area with languages other than English, I’d absolutely love to listen! All of this sparked a lot of interest for me as I hear more stories of trans experiences and how they might differ from not just person to person, but also place to place.

Thanks for reading.

Trans Support

Nov 12th – Nov 19th was Trans Awareness Week.trans-rights-are-human-rights-rugs

It’s important to note that I am a cis female (meaning that I identify with the gender that I was assigned to at birth), and while I am also a trans ally and supporter, I cannot speak from personal experience. I do, however, have a very close friend who identifies as non-binary, and have done plenty of research on the topic. I find it significant to be well versed in many areas of the LGBTQ community, as I want to give my support in a variety of ways, including understanding.

Think about a time where you had to wear something that made you uncomfortable. Growing up, I was never very girly, and I hated anything pink or glittery. Wearing something that is bright bubblegum pink with dazzling sparkles was, and is still, one of my worst nightmares. Being forced to wear something like that would absolutely make my skin crawl. I’m sure everyone has something like that, where they wouldn’t be caught dead in it in a million years. Maybe it’s a dress, a suit, something strapless, etc – something that when you put it on makes you go, “this is really not me.” I imagine that this is the feeling that someone has every single day, if they are not living as their authentic self.

My friend who is non-binary uses the pronouns they/them, and doesn’t feel that they fit into a box of either male or female. They were born female, and are currently taking steps to be exactly who they want to be through support of those around them and possibly a top-surgery in the future.

One of the most important and noteworthy things that I have learned through this friendship is that every single person goes on a journey that is entirely different and their own. Each individual who identifies as trans has unique perspectives, desires, and goals. Some may feel that they were born biologically into the wrong gender, while others do not feel that they fit into either category. Just like sexuality, I believe that gender comes on a spectrum, and all of us fall somewhere on this arch. Rather than just checking one box or the other, people are able to fall somewhere in the middle and not be constrained by what is inside of each box.

I subscribe to different outlets for affecting change in various ways in an effort to support the issues that I care about. Planned Parenthood is on this list, and I receive news alerts and updates depending on what is going on during that time. I was prompted via text to take a quiz on my knowledge of trans info and rights, so I decided to give it a go. Here are the questions and information that was shared:*

trans flagTrue or False: The first American to be credited with successfully having sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) was Christina Jorgensen
Answer: True! Jorgensen was drafted by the U.S. Army for WWII. Shortly after, she traveled to Denmark and received special permission for SRS.

trans flagAccording to the 2015 Trans Health Survey, how many self-identified transgender people were there in the U.S.? A: <50k B: 100k to 249k C: 250k to 750k D: > 1 million
Answer: D! Based on a 2015 survey, there are over 1.5 million trans folks who self-identify as trans in the U.S.

trans flagTrue or False: The Affordable Care Act prohibits sex discrimination including transgender discrimination by most health providers and insurance companies.
Answer: True! A guide and other resources on Trans Patient Rights from Natl Center for Trans Equality can be found HERE.

trans flagTrue or False: Our government is trying to block trans people from civil rights protections by defining gender as only male or female based on the genitals you’re born with.
Answer: Sad but true. It erases our trans identities, and people of all gender identities deserve civil and human rights. Trans and gender nonconforming people #WontBeErased.trans heartstrans equality

Please be aware of which politicians are supportive of what you believe in, and who is fighting for basic human rights. Support the LGBTQ community as a whole and ensure that absolutely no one is erased.

Thanks for reading.

*Quiz by Planned Parenthood 


For more information and references, 

visit https://transequality.org/.