Traductaterm in focus: non-binary

Attempting to describe anything, whether real or imagined, requires ideas to be expressed. There are many modes of expression, however, we will focus on those words which become “terms”. For this reason, we will regularly post a short text on linguistics. This will analyse current topics, together with the need to be able to express ideas related to them, in the domain of translation and related fields.


The term “non-binary” refers to a gender identity “not defined in terms of traditional binary oppositions such as male and female” (Oxford Dictionaries, 2017). People who identify as “non-binary” may see themselves as belonging to neither gender (agender) both (bigender) not having a fixed or strictly defined gender (genderfluid) or having an identity that lies somewhere between the poles of “male” and “female”. Whereas sex generally refers to a person’s biological and physical characteristics, the word “gender” refers to an individual’s personal identity.

In recent history, the western world has viewed gender in terms of two distinct categories: male and female. The emergence of language to describe other genders challenges this view. Although this phenomenon is not new, the term “non-binary” allows those whose identity does not fit neatly into categories of “male” or “female” to express this fact. This issue is gradually becoming more visible, with greater numbers of young people identifying as non-binary. Furthermore, 2016 saw the first US citizen officially registering their gender as non-binary.

Expressing non-binary identity poses difficulties in many languages, especially with regard to pronouns. In English, non-binary people may prefer to be referred to using the singular “they” or other pronouns such as “ze”. In French, phrases such as “cette person” (that person) may be used to refer to people without explicitly referring to their gender. In languages with gender-based declensions and agreements, the issue becomes even more complex.

For comments or suggestions: [email protected]


Telegraph ; the Guardian ; BBC ; who ; Genderspectrum ; Bustle

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *