Under the new Code of Conduct, how should we refer to people we don’t know the gender of when writing in Spanish on this site? Should we have some policy, so as to be consistent in how people here are supposed to comply to it?

This is a big controversy on Main Meta, but we should at least discuss its consequences on a language-learning site a little.

  • @walen oh ok cool. I didn’t remember that specific aspect of it. Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 13:53
  • Related, to help driving this conversation Are there any non-binary pronouns or neopronouns in Spanish?
    – Diego
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 14:25
  • Also, I don't think that the new CoC says that you need to "refer to people we don’t know the gender of" in a given way (technically). If I remember correctly, and with the information given by official sources, you need to refer to users by the pronouns of their choice when this users expressly request so (although "expressly" could mean that they include this info in their bio in their profile). Technically, referring to someone by "the wrong pronoun" when their pronouns are unknown or not specified could not / would not be misgendering.
    – Diego
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 14:31
  • 1
    @walen, no te quito razón. El tema es que hay que hilar muy fino con ese CoC y esas FAQs. No conocer los pronombres de alguien, asumirlos y/o tener dudas acerca de los mismos pueden ser cosas distintas. Yo puedo pensar que sé cuál es el pronombre de alguien y equivocarme, y evidentemente hasta que no me avisan de mi error no puedo saber que la otra persona prefiere un pronombre distinto al que yo asumo con la poca info que puedo tener disponible (avatar, nombre de usuario, etc.) Pero bueno, como ya sabes, ese no era un CoC que a mi me apeteciese hacer cumplir.
    – Diego
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 15:48
  • 1
    Is the CoC "final"? I seem to remember reading some discussion in Meta that The FAQ would be updated the 22nd. Having a conversation about how to be more respectful towards other users is important, and I think that they are enforcing this just for English language, but if there are changes to the CoC those may be relevant to the discussion here.
    – Diego
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 16:00
  • 1
    @Diego ya han publicado dicha actualización: What does the Code of Conduct say about pronouns?.
    – fedorqui
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 6:08
  • @walen se me pasó este comentario. Efectivamente, actualizado.
    – fedorqui
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 18:45
  • @walen ese detalle es muy confuso... Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 19:03
  • Relacionado: How should the new pronoun policy be applied to Spanish language? Pregunta de Meta Stack Exchange
    – Diego
    Commented Nov 27, 2019 at 15:08

1 Answer 1


I hope I'm not opening a can of worms by trying to figure out a best practice for our site.

It's also my understanding that this is the Meta sibling of Are there any non-binary pronouns or neopronouns in Spanish?, or at least one of them, since figuring out what we can really use (or want) may need a couple questions on the main site and figuring out how to come to agreement to use those items may take more than one Meta question.

My proposal would be, if you wanted to make an effort to deliberately address users in a gender neutral way in Spanish, to address them as "él/ella" (not "él" or "ella", but "él/ella"). Please note that the usage of a given pronoun doesn't fix the issue in Spanish, since you may need agreement in adjectives, nouns, articles, etc. For such adjectives I would default to masculine or try to use the "o/a" from.

él/ella es muy listo/a

él/ella está enfadado/a por ...

By using this complicated form (and I mean complicated, not complex) you convey that you are trying to avoid misgendering a user (and/or abiding the CoC rules of addressing them in a neutral form until you know their pronouns). I believe that it may be a different question if you need to go this far and be overly cautious with every single user for who you are unsure of their gender (but then, there is the new CoC and its FAQ, which may be creating more problems than the ones it's trying to solve...).

Additionally, you could follow the tips provided in ¿Es posible ocultar mi género en Internet al hablar en español? and avoid adjectives or nouns that need a gender and substitute them for synonyms that not necessarily imply a gender. Other similar tips are also suggested in Are there any non-binary pronouns or neopronouns in Spanish?

userName es muy inteligente

userName se enfadó por...

Another option would be to use the masculine until corrected. This may be counter-intuitive if, out of respect, you are trying to avoid misgendering (or if you are trying to play by the CoC), but masculine is the closest Spanish has for gender-neutral. If the user requests other pronouns you can simply apologize and explain that in their Nueva gramática de la lengua española (2009, sec. 2.2f) it is stated that

El "género no marcado" en español es el masculino, y el "género marcado" es el femenino.

and that you were just trying to use masculine as gender neutral, since Spanish has no specific gender for every single reality (such as transgender, hermaphrodite, etc.) and masculine seems to be the inclusive gender (as opposed to feminine, which seems to be the exclusive) and that the CoC requests that you address people in a gender-neutral way.

  • 1
    I'm glad you're starting to work on this. However, I don't support the traditional masculine for the unknown. Good thing we don't have to come up with a policy immediately! We still have some time to figure this out. Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 6:10
  • 1
    @Walen Gracias por los muchos comentarios. Me doy cuenta de que el CoC puede crear más problemas de los que pretende resolver (problemas que por cierto, hasta la fecha nunca se han producido en Spansih.se) y que es una especie de Catch-22 con muchos puntos de las FAQ. Mi intención con mis recientes contribuciones de Meta es precisamente que empecemos a hablar de cómo nos afecta y poner en evidencia estas contradicciones (y que tomemos acción al respecto), en lugar de encogernos de hombros y esperar que no nos haga la participación imposible.
    – Diego
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 11:10
  • 1
    @Diego - Estoy de acuerdo, hay que comenzar a tratar el tema, y gracias. Solo una cosa: "por cierto, hasta la fecha nunca se han producido [estos problemas] en Spanish.se." Estás tal vez olvidando que yo he revelado mis problemas al respecto -- recien abiertamente, pero a los moderadores hace tiempo. Commented Oct 27, 2019 at 6:14
  • 1
    @aparente001 Yo creo que los problemas que pretende resolver el CoC hasta la fecha no se han producido en el stack. Tú dijiste que no querías especificar tu género y ofreciste una solución (el They), y hasta donde yo recuerdo no ha habido problemas graves de alguien que, sabiendo tu preferencia, no quisiera respetarla. Para el español preguntamos lo que enlazo arriba y con esas herramientas funcionamos. Creo que no hemos tenido ningún caso de alguien que pida que se llame con un neopronombre (tipo elle) y tampoco que alguien se niegue a usarlos para referirse a ese usuario.
    – Diego
    Commented Oct 28, 2019 at 10:49
  • (I found this page linked from Meta.StackExchange.com). Can I suggest you change, or remove, "has no specific gender for every single reality (such as transgender, hermaphrodite, etc.)". If you want to change it, maybe you could mention non-binary people. I ask because the English word "hermaphrodite" is considered outdated and not wanted. For example, see the second paragraph in the Wikipedia page. (Also the words might be confusing, because many transgender people do use él or ella). Thanks :-)
    – sourcejedi
    Commented Nov 26, 2019 at 13:01

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .