When the new CoC was unveiled, foreign language sites were given an indefinite extension for implementation.

We could wait for a protocol to be handed down from above ... or we could start collaborating and exploring together how to treat gender diversity concepts in languages where gender ambiguity is especially challenging.

I will lay out the main challenges in an example language, Spanish, with a sample participant: User A has requested to be referred to with the singular "they/them" when writing in English. Here are the challenges and possible approaches identified so far at at Spanish.SE (see for example Are there any non-binary pronouns or neopronouns in Spanish?).

  1. When discussing a proposal A made, I can say:

    • Participante A propuso etc.

    • Él/Ella propuso etc.

    • Élle propuso etc.

    "Elle" is a recently coined word, meaning ambiguous third person subject pronoun (equivalent to the singular they). (Almost nobody has heard of this yet -- but if we use it, we can help spread the word.)

  2. When A wants to talk about being pleased, they have to have "agreement of noun and adjective." So, A can say:

    • Estoy contento/contenta.

    • Estoy content@.

    • Estoy content_.

    • Estoy contentx.

    • Estoy contente.

    • Siento un gran contento.

    This last one is a kluge -- the sentence was re-worked to avoid the gendered adjective ("I feel a great contentedness").

There is another option -- to use the masculine as a catch-all to cover any gender. If everyone were to agree to use this approach, then everyone would be "él" and all their adjectives would be "contento," including someone named Isabel who's indicated her pronoun is "ella" (she).

What are the special challenges and options in your language? Has discussion begun at your site? Please include links to relevant Meta discussions. Has a consensus been reached yet? What ways, if any, are people finding to allow for gender ambiguity in practice? If you are a moderator, how have you been approaching this so far?

Wikipedia has a helpful overview article that covers multiple languages! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_neutrality_in_languages_with_grammatical_gender

The intent of this question is for the relevant language sites to be able to compare notes with each other and see what consensus, if any, has been reached, and what is proving challenging. Any sites taking the ostrich approach so far (sticking the head in the sand)?

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    You probably need to check each language specific SE site separately about this. Dec 17, 2019 at 20:45
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    How do you 'implement gender diversity?' I don't understand what that literally means. Dec 17, 2019 at 20:46
  • @ScottHannen - Thanks for pointing that out. See if my title edit makes it clearer, please. Dec 17, 2019 at 20:47
  • @πάνταῥεῖ - At least one language site does not allow Meta posting in English. Also, this issue is relevant for people interested in promoting acceptance of gender diversity at SE and the CoC. In addition, the approach I have proposed (let's take the initiative to start to figure this out) is relevant for anyone interested in a greater degree of self-governance at SE. Dec 17, 2019 at 20:53
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    Are you suggesting by point 2 that SE needs to have a code for how people refer to themselves? Dec 17, 2019 at 20:55
  • @MarkBeadles - No, and please let's not go back over the existing points of consensus (or the ruts in the dried mud). It's: how can B talk about A? And how can A talk about themselves/himself/herself? Let's take me as an example. My pronoun in English is they. I do not like to be referred to as him or her. Now, how are we going to get that to work in other languages? I participate at Spanish.SE. I used to rewrite my sentences with workarounds (because previously there was an objection to the @ sign): Siento cierta confusión instead of "Me siento confundid@." Dec 17, 2019 at 21:01
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    By "how can A talk about themselves/himself/herself?" you seem to be restating what I said: how people refer to themselves. Isnt that already in place? People can refer to themselves however they want. Dec 17, 2019 at 21:06
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    @MarkBeadles - I see. Sorry for the confusion and thanks for clarifying. I'm not looking for a code so much as a collection of ideas that seem workable. (It's so much harder to get this to work in Romance languages and some others -- and remember how difficult this has been in English! Although granted, it did end up being more difficult than it really needed to be.) Dec 17, 2019 at 21:11
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    As far as I'm aware this topic is even more difficult in many other languages. Are you really eager to open up another box of problems? Good luck with that. Also I think there was already a question about that, but I cannot find it right now unfortunately. Dec 17, 2019 at 23:19
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    @Trilarion - Perhaps you are not in any hurry to tackle the problem; but I am. I go by "they" -- but this is a fairly recent thing for me. I haven't been back to Mexico for some time and my pronoun change is more recent. I've been participating in Spanish.SE for a couple years, but I wasn't comfortable stating out in the open that I prefer not be called "ella" or "él" until the recent changes to the CoC. (The reaction has been a bit more mixed than I thought it would be -- but that might be because the CoC's introduction was so, um, unsmooth.) Dec 18, 2019 at 4:02
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    I understand the motivation now. Maybe it would be better to directly focus on Spanish only in this question, other languages might require different things. Dec 18, 2019 at 9:23
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    Found the question I remembered. How should the new pronoun policy be applied to Spanish language? Dec 18, 2019 at 10:34
  • @Trilarion - Thanks for sharing the link. Dec 19, 2019 at 0:08
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    Does this answer your question? How should the new pronoun policy be applied to Spanish language? Dec 24, 2019 at 3:16

1 Answer 1


I just wanted to note that if/when we implement those rules for sites that are not in English, they will not be handed down from above.

We promised in the CoC update that we'd work with mods to establish these for those sites. While we reserve the right for "final say" we do plan to involve Moderators and their communities in on the discussion.

That's not to say you can't work on them beforehand, just to say that you don't need to be afraid of them suddenly coming out of nowhere.

As for what progress we've made: None yet (as we haven't begun discussing with mods of the sites)

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    I wonder why these discussions havent started yet? Has this topic recently lost its importance?
    – Luuklag
    Dec 17, 2019 at 22:49
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    @Luuklag, it's because it's really, really hard. Even a simple "use 'él' or 'ella' as requested" runs into the problem that aren't obvious to a native English speaker, such as if someone with the username "Marcos" asks for the pronoun "ella", do you inflect adjectives with a "-o" ending to match the name, or a "-a" ending to match the pronoun?
    – Mark
    Dec 17, 2019 at 23:13
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    @Luuklag No, it is as important as it has been - mainly because what Mark said, it is a lot more complicated than in English, and there is no one solution fits all for languages, a ton of languages also have no clean standard like english has with singular they. Now, to Mark's point, if a language has a defined gender (male/female) and someone asks to be referred by that, then we encourage you to do so (For example, in that case, inflect adjectives with -a as is the case for the pronoun). Some languages might be more complicated than that, but some won't. (Portuguese is definitely feasible).
    – Cesar M StaffMod
    Dec 18, 2019 at 0:31
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    @Mark - It goes with the stated gender, regardless of the final letter of the name, and that has been true for decades and maybe centuries. For example, "Charo" is a nickname for a woman; "Charo está contenta" poses no problem at all. A man named José María will still be contento. Dec 18, 2019 at 3:54
  • @Luuklag - Well, at Spanish.SE we have started to work on it. Dec 18, 2019 at 3:55
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    @CesarM - I'd be grateful if you'd write an answer with your ideas for Portuguese. // If you could add a bit more information to your existing answer I'd be grateful. I have not understood what the company is planning regarding how moderators and communities will be involved in discussions, how they will not be included, when the changes will take place, and how gradually or suddenly the changeover will occur. Dec 18, 2019 at 3:55
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    @CesarM, then how come it is taking 3 months already to have these discussions on sites that don't have English as their primary language. To me it just feels like certain staff members, or maybe even some people higher up in the chain, felt pressured by public opinion, that was expressed in English, by groups fighting for a certain agenda. If tomorrow such a group would start their public pressure in Spanish or Portugese there would be a "solution" before the new year?
    – Luuklag
    Dec 18, 2019 at 7:59
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    As those "promises" you mentioned were made for the main site as well, why would the language specific site communities believe them, when they were broken in plain sight here?
    – nvoigt
    Dec 18, 2019 at 8:47
  • @Luuklag maybe international sites don't have this issue? For example, on ruSO there is no this pronouns madness. Dec 18, 2019 at 16:15
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    @SuvitrufsaysReinstateMonica - Does Russian allow you to refer to someone with a pronoun, without the pronoun having a gender? // I can tell you that a couple of years ago, most participants at Spanish.SE would probably have said, "We don't have a need for an alternative pronoun at our site." But they would have been wrong. They didn't know that I was there, somewhat unhappily in the closet, struggling to use kluges to avoid using a gendered adjective when talking about myself. Dec 18, 2019 at 22:32
  • @aparente001 we only have/use he/she when referring to someone. Dec 18, 2019 at 22:37
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    @SuvitrufsaysReinstateMonica - Oh, wow, I just found this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… Dec 18, 2019 at 22:40

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