From sona pona, the Toki Pona wiki

gendern't is a common nasin that avoids the gender words meli and mije. Some gendern't speakers use tonsi only, while others avoid it as well.

Some speakers just tend not to discuss the concepts of gender in Toki Pona. In this way, gendern't can arise naturally rather than being a conscious change to one's nasin.

Motivations[edit | edit source]

A simple example of a bimodal distribution

Sex characteristics follow a bimodal distribution, not a binary (see wikipedia:Intersex). Societies take these physical characteristics, and construct largely arbitrary social roles and norms around them: gender. Different societies have different gender norms. They can also have different numbers of gender roles, and map them differently onto sex characteristics.

Bypassed understanding[edit | edit source]

Because they conflate all of these ideas, the gender words might encourage speakers to make claims about biology and anthropology without a true understanding of the specific underlying concepts being discussed. This bypasses the principle of mi ken ala toki pona e ijo la mi sona ala e ijo ("If I can't express a thing in Toki Pona, I don't understand the thing").

Generalizations and inclusion[edit | edit source]

Given the context above, generalizations about gender can be taken as hasty and oversimplified. For example, not all people who menstruate are women (some are intersex and trans men, and so on) and vice versa (amenorrhoea, menopause, some are intersex and trans women, and so on). Some generalizations about gender are taken as sexist.

To some gendern't users, Toki Pona encourages these broad generalizations through its focus on simplifying sentences. It can feel risky to talk about sex and gender in a way that is both accurate, easy to interpret, and phrased according to pona.

ku suggests that even one of the sitelen sitelen proverbs in pu (meli li nasa e mije) is an overgeneralization in 2 respects: heteronormativity, and generalization of hetero experiences.

Women will make men impulsive. (Of course, not all men experience opposite-sex attraction in this way.)

On the other hand, Toki Pona often implies "some", and this example may particularly stand out due to its context. If not presented as a proverb, it might be taken as "some women will make some men impulsive", or "a specific woman makes a specific man impulsive." Likewise, jan li lon tomo mi would usually be "some people are at my house" rather than a proverb stating "people (as a whole) are at my house." A non-gendern't stance could be that gender words work outside of general statements and other places where inclusivity is a concern.

Lexical inclusion[edit | edit source]

Another concern, especially historically, has been what gender words are available and regarded as "official". A strict pu-rist might describe nonbinary gender as li meli taso ale ala li mije taso ale ala ("to be not completely only feminine and not completely only masculine"), which is far longer than li meli or li mije, and does not treat it as a core concept alongside those.

This specific case has been amended with the movement to coin tonsi and deem it an "honorary nimi pu", alongside the community-led philosophy laid out in ku. However, speakers have different semantic spaces for tonsi, so some will feel that it does not cover similar lexical gaps. Either more words would have to be introduced to treat all genders on a similar lexical level, or doing so would only make the situation worse; regardless, they prefer to avoid a set of gender words perceived as incomplete.

Relevance[edit | edit source]

A lot of the time, mentioning someone's gender is not relevant to the discussion. pu has many examples that could be interpreted this way. For example, sina mije wawa. ("You're a confident man.") could be a commentary on the listener's gender role, or could just mean sina wawa. ("You're confident.")

Some speakers are simply dissatisfied with their culture's framework of gender and think that it shouldn't be relevant, and that using gender words upholds a system that ought to be challenged. They might use Toki Pona to lift the lens of gender that they have been conditioned to perceive—trying to see the world for what it is without the baggage of these concepts, in line with the philosophy expressed in pu.

Personal assumptions[edit | edit source]

Gender words can be applied to people based on incorrect assumptions. Because so much of one's life can be staked on gender presentation, misgendering tends to be highly offensive (to cis and trans people alike). Some speakers want to adjust their nasin to render such mistakes impossible.

Strategies[edit | edit source]

Replacement as head[edit | edit source]

If meli or mije is the head of a phrase, and said gender is deemed irrelevant, it can be replaced with jan (or other words, if the referent is not jan). This dovetails into jan't.

Circumlocution[edit | edit source]

Circumlocutions in the gendern't nasin can reflect a shift towards inclusive language such as "people with [gendered characteristic]", instead of "men" or "women". The same strategies used to accomplish this in English can be emulated in Toki Pona.

Loanwords[edit | edit source]

Another strategy is to treat gender words as loanwords, starting with headnouns such as:

kule kon

kule kon

color (used metaphorically as "intrinsic attribute") of the soul






box (derogatory; used metaphorically as "extrinsic attribute", like English "put someone in a box")

Thus, meli and mije could become kule kon Meli and kule kon Mije, for instance.

The names can also be loaned from other languages, which allows third genders and specific nonbinary labels and identities to be discussed on the same level of "official word–ness" as the binary genders. For example, the Anglosphere's concepts of "boy", "girl", and "enby" could become nasin Poje, nasin Kejo, and nasin Enpi.