Five Tips for Gender-inclusive Translations

In our increasingly globalized world, international and multicultural teams come together more and more often to build the best content for their respective brands and organizations. But what implications does this diverse work structure have on inclusive language?

For those working in positions such as UX writer, UX designer, or translator who are curious to know how to improve their collaboration, this post is for you. I offer my five best tips for facilitating successful gender-inclusive translations from non-gendered into gendered languages.

1. Raise awareness and educate different organizational departments on gender-inclusive language.


Invite members with various roles into the conversation, such as marketers, UX writers, UX designers, translators, and sales managers. This way, you can give them an international overview to help them reflect on how practices in gender inclusion can vary dramatically depending on the type of languages (gendered or non-gendered) and regions at play.

Why is this important? If your UX writing team creates inclusive content, but your localization team doesn’t show gender sensitivity when translating your documents, it may create inconsistency that can be avoided with proper education. A lack of gender sensitivity can not only produce friction in internal projects but can also cause damage to the organization’s credibility.

2. Create a gender-inclusive style guide and glossary—and localize them.

A good tip is to write these elements in the internal communication language established by your organization. You can start from scratch or base your work on already-existing internal documents. Writing tailored guidelines for your organization will keep everyone on the same page and maintain consistency in your tone of voice (ToV) across languages, brand image, the messages you want to convey, and the way you address your target audience.

When localizing the guidelines into your target languages, keep in mind that the best inclusive UX writing practices for North American English may not apply to all prospective or target markets. For example, the use of exclamation points, capital letters, and informal tone can be seen as too intrusive by some readers. And while some gendered languages, like French, use the imperative as a way to avoid any mark of gender, this strategy doesn’t always work for other languages.

For instance, the imperative form in Hebrew remains gendered. This entails that your localization team or gender-inclusive language experts tweak and adapt your reference documents for the target language. Then, share these guides with all the departments of your organization and make sure your UX writing and design teams fully understand their scope.

Remember that gender inclusion can be a less-known topic for some of your audiences. While North Americans may be quite aware of gender inclusion, you shouldn’t assume that is also the case in your target languages. There can even be strong variations between one region and the other. For example, gender-inclusive language remains a heated debate in France, while Québec has been at the forefront of the practice for many years now. This means you’ll probably be required to write separate guides for each region, even if they technically speak the same language.

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