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Approval of diploma allowing ‘gender neutral names’ reinforces Portugal’s new vocabulary

Gender neutral pronouns… even adjectives

For anyone learning Portuguese these days, last week’s approval of draft legislation allowing people to choose ‘gender neutral names’ has reinforced the creeping into everyday speak of a new vocabulary, with not only ‘gender neutral pronouns’ but gender neutral adjectives as well.

As non-binary Jo has told SIC Notícias: “The most consensual (option) has been the use of ‘e’. For example, ‘lindo (beautiful, for a man) or linda (beautiful, for a woman) has become ‘linde’, very much like ‘aluno’ (pupil male) or ‘aluna’ (pupil female) becomes ‘alune’.

What is not so clear is how many people actually buy into these changes. As SIC admits, this new diploma, dubbed by some as ‘a breakthrough’, has also been criticised as unnecessary.

The intention is to cater for the non-binary (people who neither identify as male or female). But as SIC explains, there are now so many degrees of gender identity to take on board. There are ‘agender people’ (people who are without gender); bigender (people who express two identities and behaviours), trigender (three identities and behaviours), fluid (gender changes more than once over time) and demigender (this, says SIC without really explaining, is when “only half of the gender is known”).

This reality, that has “always existed” in SIC’s understanding, was the reason behind the draft law coming up for debate (possibly not until the next legislature) that has already got ‘hundreds’ of people in Portugal preparing to officially change their names.

Gender neutral names, like Jo’s, include Alex, Cris, Rafa, and, as Jo told SIC, they mean a great deal to their namesakes as it is recognition by the State of “experiences that already exist in society (…) There are people who have lived this way for decades (…) other genders have always existed. It’s not a fad, a thing of the moment”. 

The World Health Organisation recently published a new directive on the way trans and non-binary people should be ‘treated’ by health systems, adds SIC.

When the draft law was approved at committee stage last week, the only political party to vote against it was CHEGA, suggesting it was “a step backwards” and “absurd”. ND

Source material: SIC Notícias