3

I am preparing for a large academic event where Latin is used. Latin will be used in the spoken ceremonies and, more importantly for this question, in written diplomas. The gender of the recipient of the diploma will have an effect on the text: for example, a master will be magister or magistra.

There is a chance that some of the participants have non-binary gender identity and do not see themselves as clearly male or clearly female. This presents an issue for Latin. I see two main options here: using masculine (as people of unspecified gender are treated masculine in Latin) or neuter (more emphatically neither masculine nor feminine). I think masculine is the best choice, but I have no experience about the reception of such a choice.

So: Can anyone share experiences about how people with non-binary gender identity prefer to be gendered in Latin? Experience from other languages and extrapolation to Latin is fine, but in that case I prefer languages with masculine, feminine, and neuter. I am looking for actual experiences of people with non-binary gender identity in relation to Latin (or other gender-wise comparable language). I do not want anyone to feel misgendered, provided that they understand how gender works in Latin. For example, if you took a Latin class with such a person, do you remember how they preferred to be gendered in Latin?

I assume the question is whether people prefer masculine or neuter (there are probably both), but I want to leave the question a little open-ended, as I might not be aware of all aspects of the issue. Probably different people have different preferences, but I would like to have at least a small sample of opinions. The best thing imaginable is a study on this matter, but I doubt it exists.

(There is also a question about pronouns for such cases.)

  • I have no personal experience with this issue, but, as you say, masculine is used for the common gender in all European languages that I know. Neuter is just not use for people in Latin, so I would rule that out. If you feel like it, you could rewrite the entire text using only nouns and adjective with common genders, such as poeta and words of the third declension. – Cerberus Apr 22 '18 at 13:22
  • @Cerberus I agree that masculine is best, but I would like to see some more direct evidence from the relevant people themselves (for any such language). In some cases one might be able to work around gender-specific words, but in the said academic context this will be hard. The key nouns referring to the recipient of the diploma are candidatus/candidata, magister/magistra, licentiatus/licentiata, and doctor/doctrix, and adjectives are easily in superlative. In fact, the diploma I mentioned earlier uses the phrase femina praeclarissima. – Joonas Ilmavirta Apr 22 '18 at 13:33
  • ♦: Even so, it can be done! Words can be replaced and constructions recast...it's just a lot of work and it will uglify the text. – Cerberus Apr 22 '18 at 13:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.