Towards a More Gender-Inclusive Translation and Interpretation Practice

Lynette Chang (Translation Track, second year)

Jaeden Soo (Interpreting Track, second year)


Just recently, I caught myself falling into the trap of non-inclusive language use in my translation. When faced with the Mandarin terms ‘族人’ and ‘人類’ , I instinctively rendered them as ‘tribesmen’ and ‘mankind’ in the first draft of my translation, and was utterly appalled when reviewing my work. TribesMEN? MANkind? I shudder at the number of eyebrows these faux pas will raise.

While these may not be considered mistakes in a conventional sense (especially not a hundred years ago), the gender revolution in the past century has made it necessary for us to be more sensitive to the issues of gender and sexuality in our discipline, and the use of gender-inclusive or gender-neutral language is one way to be more discerning in our practice. Rendering ‘人類’ as ‘mankind’ perpetuates the exclusion of people who do not identify as males, and that is a huge boo-boo if we want to promote a more gender-inclusive discipline. The problem is that the use of non-inclusive language is deeply rooted in history, and we might find ourselves swerving off-course from time to time if we’re not careful. I slipped into this devious trap even with two gender-related modules this semester.

An important lesson to take away from my embarrassing negative example is the fact that anyone can fall into the trap of non-inclusive language use no matter how sensitive to gender they believe themselves to be, so it’s important to always be mindful when translating and interpreting. But that’s not to say that there is zero room for error; it’s alright to slip up every now and again. More importantly, we should reflect on our mistakes and make sure to not repeat them so as to put ourselves back on the path to a more inclusive discipline.


Language can be an integral part of self-identity, as it is one major means of self-expression. It is definitely true for me, a queer, transgender person, when it comes to my journey of exploring my identities and being who I am every day. And as a student in GPTI, I have come to believe in the importance of people in the T&I field realizing the power and responsibility we have being the messengers that convert ideas between languages.

Take LGBTQ topics or issues for example, using gender-inclusive language can be of upmost importance so that we don’t contribute to the erasure of LGBTQ folks and their identities, something they encounter often enough in this heteronormative, cis-normative world. So, as a Trans and non-binary T&I student, I would like to offer a bilingual glossary that I’ve compiled, and some tips for using correct/ inclusive language for LGBTQ people. But, one important disclaimer first: don’t tell people how to identify, as they know themselves best. And when in doubt, ask respectfully and politely rather than assume.

LGBTQ English/Mandarin glossary:

  1. Transitioning/ Transition:跨性別者俗稱的「跨出去/跨越」,指的是跨性別者為了讓自己的身體、名字、別人指稱自己的語言(性別代名詞)等更符合自己的性別,而選擇作出的改變或調整。醫療相關包括性別重置手術(Gender affirmation/reassignment surgery)、賀爾蒙療程(Hormone therapy)、平胸手術 (top surgery)、陰莖/道重建手術(bottom surgery)等等。
  2. (Gender) Non-binary:非二元、性別非二元,是一種性別認同,同時也可以是眾多無法被「男女二元」定義的性別認同的泛稱,包含性別酷兒 (gender queer)、性別流動 (gender fluid)、無性別 (agender)、雙性別(bigender)等等。
  3. Intersex雙性人/間性人:性別生理構造、器官不能明確被歸為傳統「男/女性」的人[1],可能是順性別、跨性別或都不是,每個雙性人認同可能不同。
  4. AFAB/AMAB (Assigned Female/Male at Birth) 出生指定性別:跨性別/非二元社群中越來越多人不喜歡「生理男/女性」(Biological Male/Female)的說法,原因可能有幾種,像是認為生理性別也是光譜,器官不應該直接被指定性別,或是提到非自己認同的性別會造成性別不安等等。
  5. Transgender 跨性別:LGBTQ裡的T,出生指定性別和自己認知的性別不一致者。
  6. Cisgender 順性別:出生指定性別和自己認知的性別一致者。
  7. Gender Identity 性別/性別認同:有些人會介意「認同」的說法,因為講到異性戀、順性別者時,通常不會說性別「認同」而會直接說是男/女生,所以有種把異性戀、順性別定為預設的意味。
  8. Sexuality 性傾向:會產生情慾的對象的可能性別,包含但不限於LGBQP=Lesbian女同性戀、Gay男同性戀/同性戀、Bisexual雙性戀(情慾對象可以包含男女,也有可能包含其他多元性別)、Queer/Questioning酷兒/思考中或不確定、Pansexual泛性戀(情慾對象的性別不太重要或不構成太多限制)。
  9. Transexual 變性人:想做「變性」手術的人,可能但不一定是跨性別。另外,因為社會傳統以歧視、獵奇的方式使用這個詞,胡亂標籤打扮、氣質、身體不符合傳統認知中男女樣貌的人,長久下來成為帶有污名的一個詞。
  10. Queer 酷兒:LGBTQ社群有許多人很驕傲地覺得自己是酷兒,但也有許多人以定義上來說符合queer,卻因為長久以來(尤其在英文語境)歧視同志的人拿這個字來攻擊同志族群,所以並不一定能接受這個詞被當作自己的認同標籤,所以除非很確定別人能接受這個詞,否則要謹慎使用這個詞。



The Radical Copyeditor’s Style Guide for Writing About Transgender People:

For the Transgender and non-binary communities specifically, it can be hard for allies to find resources due to the general lack of trans/ non-binary visibility and representation even within the LGBTQ community. So, I recommend this very comprehensive general guidelines for writing/translating about transgender people, which is useful for talking about us as well:


Pronouns Guide

Before my first week at GPTI, I hesitated to introduce my pronouns (I use he/him and they/them, the singular, 3rd person pronouns) because I thought people wouldn’t know what they were and would be confused, including my teachers. I wasn’t wrong, but I was happy to have introduced myself with my pronouns and later on my trans and non-binary identity. Because now at least a cohort of future translators and interpreters could be more aware of the language to use for LGBTQ people and terms.

I have been blessed to have really supportive classmates and teachers that respect my pronouns, but I understand that it could be tricky if folks don’t know how to use gender neutral pronouns. So, here’s a guide:

As for mandarin pronouns, for the non-binary people that I know, most use 他 as it actually can be gender neutral, some use “TA.”