Gender Ambiguity in a Gender-Marked Language

The NY Times published an interesting piece yesterday called “Redefining Gender in Mexico City.”  Micah, a transgender advocate, spoke to the author about the linguistic difficulties of being transgender in a gender-marked language.  Here’s an interesting bit;

“In Spanish there is no gender-neutral pronoun. Whenever you speak, you have to give yourself a gender. Estoy cansado. Estoy cansada. It’s very difficult to say, “I’m tired” without gender. You have to say, “I have tiredness.” Tengo cansancio.Sometimes I wouldn’t say the ends of words. I’d say, “Estoy cansad. … ” Or instead of using cansado or cansada, I’d say, “Estoy muy tired.”

The article goes on to detail just how forward thinking Mexico City has become (unlike the rest of the country) when it comes to gender issues.  Micah transitioned from female to male a couple of years ago and was able to officially change his gender after going through a number of hoops.  Now, he notes:

“The legal proc­ess I went through in Mexico City, over a year with lawyers and doctors, is obsolete today. Changing your gender on your birth certificate is just an administrative matter now. That’s the new law that passed last year.”

Nice to hear some good news coming from the DF!