Genre-fluides francophones, aidez-moi, vous êtes mon seul espoir!
October 7, 2012 12:13 AM   Subscribe

Are you a francophone genderqueer person? What pronouns do you use? What language changes have you made?

I'm an English-speaker taking a university-level intermediate French class. Choosing a gender and sticking with it bothers me, which is a problem when so much of written and spoken French agrees with the gender of the speaker or subject (fatigué/e, beau/belle, etc.)

I have found a few resources online, but I want to know an actual genderqueer French person might do to change their language. I am happy to hear whether there's any broadly-accepted conventions, or what worked for you, personally.
posted by blnkfrnk to Writing & Language (2 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
My brothister is transgender, I have lots of LGBT friends and I've gone to several gay pride parades here (in Nice it's the Pink Parade) and bars too, lots of genderqueer people present. Honestly the pronouns are pretty much fluid, and when you're speaking French as opposed to writing it, things like an extra "e" on adjectives are inaudible/undetectable. It can also be like in English, where it can get tricky when you want to respect a person's queerness and yet the language forces you into choosing from one of two boxes. In French it's actually a little more fluid though, since you can express it by just mixing up everything. Teachers won't like it, and it will be viewed as improper/uneducated French if you use it in professional circles, but in everyday life it works. "Elle est beau" for example. You can even see an instance of it used ironically in this article about gender parity (that whole article is deeply ironic, so trying to translate it might not work out so well – the author is expressing how even with laws on gender parity, sexism is still painfully obvious in the French political parties; the feminine "elle" becoming masculinized with "beau" is part of expressing that).

When it comes to transgender/transsexual, again as in English, it's the gender presented that's used (out of respect, and unless the person has requested otherwise, in which case their choice is used). For instance these women: elles étaient bien habillées et très sympathiques.
posted by fraula at 4:13 AM on October 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

In the context of French language classes, where you're meant to be learning French, rather than assumed to know it, I've never heard of anyone coming up with options beyond using whatever pronouns/gender the teacher assumes (and doing your best to mumble when referring to yourself in class) and talking to the teacher. I'm not sure if this is your situation or not. (From an evaluation perspective, surely it can't really matter if you're switching grammatical gender for yourself each sentence or paragraph, as long as the sentence works. Again whether anyone has persuaded a teacher of this, I don't know.)

Here is a PDF of a Master's thesis (in French) talking about the group Genres pluriels in Brussels. Page 262 looks like it's what you want, but it the solutions may be too highly local. It seems 'yel' and 'elli' are the gender neutral pronouns, but, again, quite how far outside Brussels (or a subset of Brussels) they've made it, I can't tell. I found some forums where people clearly didn't know they existed--they'd say things like "It's helpful that English has 'it'. French doesn't have a neuter pronouns." where you'd expect them to mention gender neutral pronouns if they knew about them (even if they were considered impractical for use outside the trans/genderqueer circles).
posted by hoyland at 6:13 AM on October 7, 2012

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