Question: Gender-neutral honorifics in Spanish?

Benevoson asks…

I have identified as bigender (biologically female) almost a year ago, prefer the pronoun singular they, and are still deciding between the titles “Mixter” and “Missr”.

That being said, I am also taking a Spanish class, but I am concerned about the lack of gender-neutral honorifics, only giving a choice between the masculine -o endings and Señor, or the feminine -a endings, Señora and Señorita. I haven’t been enjoying the class as much as I would like, since it has felt awkward to be forced to use the female endings and honorifics (I don’t believe my teacher is fully aware of my identity).

Anyway, what I want to know is if there are, in fact, neutral honorifics and word endings that I am unaware of. I really want there to be some, but if not, then some advice on the best way to cope with it would be just as appreciated. Thank you in advance to all who reply!

Please post your response in the comments below.

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Posted by on November 18th, 2013 at 08:00 am

Category: questions 7 comments »

7 Responses to “Question: Gender-neutral honorifics in Spanish?”

  1. b

    orthographically, the symbol @ can be used to indicate a plurality or ambiguity of gender. example: soy un mexican@. The pronunciation of this is also not fixed, but often expressed as the diphthong /ao/, so the above is pronounced roughly [soi un mehikanao}

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  2. alex

    i live in italy (italian and spanish are very similar) and although i don’t yet identify as genderqueer (i’m confused and don’t know yet) i have thought about it but unfortunately it would be very difficult to identify with anything else than male or female. Everything you say (even: i got up at 7 o’clock for example)tells the other person your gender. And it sucks. For this reason, as for many others, i much prefer to speak english. I don’t think there’s much you can do.. apart, maybe, from what b said ^

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  3. Briar

    This is something I have had difficulty with in Spanish classes too. It isn’t just about honorifics, any time you want to describe yourself in Spanish (for example, “I am happy”) or any other person wants to talk about you, you are forced to choose between boy and girl. There are currently not any spoken solutions, although the @ is up and coming in writing especially. For me, it’s actually a pretty big deal and has made me not want to pursue the language further. For this semester though, I’ve been switching back and forth between o and a endings, often every few sentences.

    If you decide that might help, make sure your teacher knows though, so that they don’t think you’re making mistakes all over the place.

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  4. tigr

    I’m also learning Spanish at the moment, and I’ve been using the @ instead of -a/-o as well (sent an e-mail to my teacher to tell them about me being genderqueer and that, and they’re fine with me using @ etc.), and I thought of pronouncing it halfway between a and o, but I think simply going for -ao- might be easier.

    But yes, that doesn’t fix the title issue! On a related thread about titles a while ago the term ‘joven’ was mentioned. Though that only works for young people (it means “young one”)…

    I do think gender-rigidity in language makes being genderqueer a lot harder. I don’t think I’d be as comfortable with and open about being genderqueer if I was still in Germany! Back when I still lived there I always thought I had to decide between being a man or being a woman, and only after moving into English I realized I can be both, or neither!

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  5. yue

    I am a native speaker and am quite sad to know that this has led many of you to not want to pursue with learning out beautiful language.
    It is VERY hard to stick with inespecifics since everything must have a sex (even things) the @ is pretty much universal in writing. And there are a couple of adjectives that you can get away with…
    I’m happy= estoy feliz (instead of content@)
    But nouns do tend to cause terrible headaches.

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  6. Anonymous

    I’ve heard people substitute “u” in spoken Spanish when the @ won’t work, but I don’t know how common that is.

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  7. chava

    well, when we try to speak in a gender neutral way in spanish, we use the generic form: i.e. jueces-juezas= judicatura/ profesor-profesora= profesorado or las/los estudiantes= estudiantado, which would be correct.
    i would tell you to ask them not to use any honorifics, just your name or, if not, just only usted.

    in other cases, for example, instead of saying los profesores you can use lxs profesorxs or using e instead of a/o.

    [Reply]


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