May 23·edited May 23Liked by Maurice Frank

As a German-learner, I call bullshit on Wegner's concerns. In my personal experience of learning a new language as an adult, a big challenge is finding the right ways to say what I intend to say, with the level of nuance I want. Gender-neutral words have been essential to me feeling like I can talk about my life, community and experiences. And honestly, there's parts of German that are far more confusing than "*innen". For example, "du" vs "Sie", and the nightmarish complexity of when to use one or the other, risking deeply offending someone if you choose wrongly.

Perhaps where Wegner's concern is genuine is in wanting to only accept immigrants who speak and think like he does, rather than accept that culture and language change with time.

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May 23Liked by Maurice Frank, Andrew Bulkeley

Has anyone bothered to ask people who don't identify as male how they feel about the issue?

As an older adult German-learner, I also call bullshit on Wegner's concerns. Language changes to meet the needs of the culture that's using it. There are far more difficult aspects to learning Deutsch than its attempts at gender-inclusivity.

Also, why the heck do I have to disclose my gender every time I order something online from a German owned company??? German online stores always have a MANDATORY drop-down menu for the salutation! Is it really impossible for German retailers to send me an email that simply says, "Thank you for ordering this toilet brush", without knowing if I'm a "Frau" or a "Herr"?

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I have a weird perspective on this.

I worked at an... *ahem*... pleasure brand in Berlin, called Womanizer. So it's a brand for female-bodied people already wrestling with the relationship between gender and anatomy. It was a highly international business: half the staff were German, the rest mostly Europeans, and a handful of Americans whose opinions tended to win out, I think because they were louder. The language of the business was English.

It was our job to be good with gender and identity because of the intimate nature of our market, and we could never figure out how to talk inclusively in German, not even with a number of extremely articulate non-binary and trans people on staff. The most nuanced thing I took from it was that while the young German trans people were uncomfortable with German gendering, they were MORE uncomfortable with having their language dictated by the Americans. That is to say, they were fed up of the conversation around their identity being dictated by the American conversation. They'd rather wrestle with the clunkiness of German than be a part of the criticism of the language if the criticism was led by non-Europeans, whose values didn't fully represent them.

This is going to be a mess for a couple of generations yet.

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