Home Institution

Bates College

Publication Date

Spring 2019

Program Name

Chile: Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development


In the last three or so years, the concept of a gender inclusive language has begun to take form in Chile for the first time. The juxtaposition of the prevalence of gender in the Spanish language with a society that is slowly learning to accept the existence of gender in more than two forms and the equal recognition and treatment of people of all genders is striking. This phenomenon has led to proposals for an inclusive language in various government institutions and activist groups. These proposals vary from using the letter x or e to replace the gendered a/o in words that thus indicate the traditional forms of feminine and masculine gender, to explicitly stating both grammatical gender forms of every word that refers to a human subject, to using gender neutral words that already exist in the language such as las personas to neutralize the word in question. Due to its relative newness as a concept, today there is more wide-spread rejection than support amongst Chilean society.

In the present investigation, past research on the presence of gender in the Spanish language and the proposed variations is analyzed through interviews with individuals who specialize in linguistics in the region of Valparaíso, Chile. The information gained from these academic perspectives is coincided with field observations in the same region to generate a consciousness of the general perception that Chilean society has of gendered language and its proposals for gender inclusivity. This paper does not offer a definition of the correct form of what gender inclusive language in Spanish looks like, rather it is an analysis of the justifications for this movement, how Chilean society perceives it, and the likelihood of its success in the future. After conducting this investigation, I conclude that gender inclusive language is not widely accepted or justified in Chilean society and its use is primarily confined to progressive academic and activist spaces. I also conclude that the form in which gender inclusive language should take in Spanish is largely subjective amongst those who believe it should exist, and through this movement it is clear that how a language should be is in the hands of modern society and not linguistic institutions such as the Real Academia Española (RAE). My hope is that this work is used as groundwork for many more efforts to normalize gender inclusive language with the long term goal of using language, something that represents in large part the identity of a place, to reduce the inequality between cisgender men and people of all other gender identities.


Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Latin American Languages and Societies | Latin American Studies | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Linguistics | Philosophy of Language | Politics and Social Change | Social and Cultural Anthropology


Article Location