Translations enable people to break the language barrier and access a plethora of information from multiple sectors, including medical information, information from the entertainment world, legal awareness, and much more. In this day of equal opportunities and inclusion, words have the capacity to be a powerful force for inclusion.
Translation can be a critical tool in inclusion. To ensure that your translated content has a positive impact on your audience and matches the sensibilities of your target audience, including people from the LGBTQIA+ community, among other things, your translated content should focus on gender inclusion.
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What Is Gender Inclusion?
The concept of gender inclusion goes beyond gender equality. Gender Inclusion is the belief that every service, opportunity, and establishment should be open to all people irrespective of the gender they identify with.
Additionally, it is the belief that the prevalent male and female stereotypes do not define societal roles and expectations. Gender inclusion can go a long way in reducing gender biases and stereotypes and can also lessen the violence against women and children.
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The Importance of Gender Inclusion
Including gender in language has benefits that go beyond breaking stereotypes. Considering gender in language helps your target audience identify with your service or your product and your overall brand image.
If your product or service targets a large, diverse set of audiences, then all the content related to your product and service would need to consider and include the sensitivities and tastes of this diverse audience.
Irrespective of the language and communication medium you use, your content will need to be inclusive for your varied audience to relate to the content on some level. Creating new promotional or service content for your products and brand can serve as an excellent opportunity for you to implement gender inclusion.
How Is Gender Expressed in Different Languages?
To implement the concept of gender inclusion, you will need to be careful and conscious of the fact that every language uses genders differently. Examples of this include:
- Certain languages like English express gender by using pronouns (e.g., “he,” “his,” “she,” “her,” “they,” or “their”)
- Certain other languages, like Turkish, do not use pronouns to express genders (e.g., “o”).
- In several other languages, the endings of nouns or adjectives will depend on the gender of the speaker or the person that the statement refers to.
These differences create challenges in translating content from one language to another while maintaining gender inclusion.
How to Address Groups in the English Language?
While writing for an uncertain audience in English, writing “his or her” or “he or she” has become the best practice. This helps to make females feel included by avoiding using a uniform masculine gender for a statement. You might have seen this phrase used in several places, e.g., “his or her camera” or “he or she needs to follow the directions.”
However, using “his or her” or “he or she” does not include individuals who are non-binary or gender non-conforming persons who may not prefer to use these pronouns.
Traditionally, for cases when the gender of the concerned person is unclear, using the singular word “they” has been an appropriate and popular alternative. Several English style guides agree that using “they” in such instances is appropriate and grammatically accurate.
Therefore, instead of “his or her camera” or “he or she needs to follow the directions,” we can switch to “their camera” or “they need to follow the directions.”
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Expressing Gender Inclusion in All Languages
While translating your content from one language to another, it is essential to maintain the context and meaning of the source language. Diluting the meaning of the source language content while translating into the target language defeats the purpose of the translation, especially while marketing a product or service.
For instance, instead of addressing a large group of the audience as “ladies and gentlemen,” you could opt for the neutral and more gender-inclusive “esteemed guests” or a simple “welcome” to convey the same meaning while simultaneously being more inclusive.
The phrase “ladies and gentlemen” uses unnecessary gender connotations in the content. Through such subtle changes in the language, you can ensure that all the audience members feel included.
If you translate your content into a language that uses gendered nouns while referring to people, e.g., French, it would usually be a good idea to use collective nouns to avoid unnecessary gender connotations and depersonalize the text. Therefore, instead of using “l’employé or l’employée,” you could use “le personnel.”
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Gender Inclusion Benefits in Healthcare
Implementing gender inclusion is particularly essential in the healthcare sector. According to a 2017 NPR poll, 22% of transgender Americans stated they had avoided doctors or healthcare because they feared they would be discriminated against.
Therefore, professional translation services are particularly careful and consult with their clients to ensure the language used in all informed consent forms and clinical trial agreements is as gender-inclusive as possible.
For example, it might not always be appropriate in the German language to use feminine endings when addressing the participants of a clinical trial for an intrauterine device (IUD). Another similar situation could be where it might be inappropriate to use masculine connotations for a testicular cancer drug.
Conforming to gender-specific connotations in the cases mentioned above or similar ones could mean that the concerned healthcare practice assumes that none of the participants are non-binary or transgender persons.