Language Justice Curriculum

Chapter 5: Queering Language


Welcome + Reflection – 30 minutes
Queering Vocabulary – 20 minutes
Gender Neutral Pronouns – 20 minutes
Queering Practice – 35 minutes
Close – 5 minutes

  • To prepare and encourage participants to think about and include pro-LGBTQ language when interpreting
  • To practice queering language
Materials Needed


Step One:

  • Facilitators welcome everyone to the practice session.
  • Facilitators review the objectives for the session: To prepare and encourage participants to think about and include pro-LGBTQ language when interpreting, and to have an opportunity to practice queering language.

Step Two:

  • Facilitators hand out paper and markers.
  • Facilitators explain that the following exercise may be difficult and invite participants to share only what they feel comfortable sharing. (Facilitators should also give participants the possibility of opting out of the activity.)
  • Facilitators ask participants to draw a time they have been misnamed or misidentified. It could be related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or class.
  • Questions for participants to keep in mind while drawing:
    • What happened?
    • Who was there?
    • What did you do?
    • What did you not do?
    • How did that feel?
  • Participants are given 5 minutes to draw.
  • After participants are done drawing, facilitators ask each participant to briefly share how that situation made them feel.
  • After all participants have shared, facilitators lead the group through a small reflection:
    • What did we hear?
    • What are some ideas or emotions that keep coming up?

Step Three:

  • Facilitators may say something like: “We opened with an exercise like this because we want to start thinking about a time we felt invisible or unseen. Today’s topic will cover some personal issues, including identity, gender, and sexuality. We start by grounding the session in our reality, our experiences. This session will cover queering language because the way people talk about gender and sexuality is changing all the time, and as interpreters we should be equipped with accurate, accepted language. You may be asked to interpret in social justice, feminist, or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer spaces, and you want to have the vocabulary and to be properly prepared for these situations. Also, as language justice interpreters who are working to create more just communities, we need to start thinking and speaking in ways that reflect and celebrate the diversity of our communities and the plurality of who we are.”


There are many good resources on this topic, including:


Step One:

  • Facilitators explain the next activities will focus on what we call “queering language” or “queering interpretation”.
  • Facilitators divide participants into pairs.
  • Each pair is assigned a word. Examples of words that can be assigned to the pairs include:
    • Queer
    • Diversidad sexual
    • Transformista
    • Butch
    • Gender non-conforming
    • Straight
  • The partners have 5 minutes to develop a definition and translation of the word.
  • Participants may use their partner, the Internet, WordReference application, etc. for help.
  • Facilitators ask each pair to share their word, definition, and translation.
  • Facilitators can ask participants:
    • What do you think?
    • How do you feel?
    • Have you had to interpret these words before?

Step Two:

  • Facilitators may want to say something like: “Queer people in the U.S. and abroad are identifying themselves in new ways. It’s a process of definition and self-determination. LGBTQ people are defining themselves in ways that are true to who they are. That means reclaiming or changing language in the process, because the options that exist within the current language don’t always have space for the various gender identities and gender expressions.”


Notes for facilitators: The goal of this activity is not to create a definitive answer about how to use gender-neutral pronouns. The objective is to foster a discussion that starts an open conversation. You may encounter push back when leading these kinds of exercises from people who know the “proper” way to speak/ write in relation to gender and the rules of a given language. However, the whole point of queering language is to break free from the constraints of the rules assigned to us by society.

Step One:

  • Facilitators divide participants into pairs or small groups, depending on the size of the group.
  • Facilitators ask participants to imagine that a person who has self-identified as using gender-neutral pronouns says one of the following sentences:
    1. I’m tired.
    2. Hi, my name is Daniel. I use the pronoun “they”.
    3. Quiero darle un beso a Yecelica porque me gusta mucho.
  • Each group is given the same sentence or phrase.
  • Each group has several minutes to translate the sentence or phrase using gender-neutral pronouns.
  • Facilitators ask each group to share their translation.
  • Facilitators ask participants:
    • Was that difficult?
    • Was it easy?
    • Have you had to interpret this vocabulary before?

Step Two:

To close this section, facilitators may want to say something like: “Remember our opening activity and how it felt to be misnamed or misidentified. Although this may be new and possibly challenging, as language justice interpreters who are working to create more just communities, we need to continuously unlearn oppressive language and start thinking and speaking in ways that reflect and celebrate who we are.”


Notes for facilitators: The following example is one of many that can be used for this topic. Feel free to find an interview, podcast, or video that is right for your group.

The following activity will provide participants with the opportunity to practice these new skills while interpreting a podcast using simultaneous interpretation.

Facilitators could set the practice up in several ways. The best setup for this practice will depend on the time available and the size of the group.

  1. Each participant could get several minutes on the mic while other participants listen using the equipment.
  2. Each participant interprets the audio quietly to themselves or records themselves interpreting on their phones. ¡OJO! This could get loud!

Radio Ambulante Podcast – En Busca de las Palabras
http:// audio/ en-busca-de-las-palabras

  • After the recording is finished, the participants could listen to their own recording or another group member could listen to the recording, much like a peer evaluation.
  • Facilitators lead the group through a debrief by asking the following questions:
    • How did that go?
    • How do you feel?
    • What was easy?
    • What was difficult?
    • How did you use what we learned here today?

CLOSE – 5 minutes

Aaaand, it’s complicated. This is a growing and changing subject.

Facilitators can either read “Quiero Que Me Llames Joto” by Yosimar Reyes or show the following video: https:// zz3oEa.

Quiero que me llames JOTO
Pero no con coraje y odio
Si no con amor y compasión

Quiero que me quieras
En español

No quiero ser Gay o Queer mucho menos Xueer
With an X
Quiero que tu amor sea tanto que hagas olvidar
El rencor que le tengo a esa palabra

Quiero que me llames JOTO
Para que te enfrentes a tus prejuicios
Quiero saber si en verdad me quieres
Por todo lo que soy

No quiero tu pena
Si no tu amor

Quiero que cada vez que me llames JOTO
Pienses en la maravilla de mi ser
La manera en que te sé querer
Como te he perdonado
Por los golpes que me haz dado

Quiero ser
En la lengua de mi abuela
Do not want to translate
Quien soy
Para protegerme del dolor

Llámame por lo que soy
Deja que te duela
Como pesa esa palabra en tu lengua
Ahora imagínate como ha de pesar en el corazón

Recuerda las veces
Que me azotabas con tu ignorancia

Las veces que me lavé la boca con jabón
Para olvidar el sabor del amor
Que le tenía a otro hombre

Quiero que me llames JOTO
No como insulto o chiste
Si no como persona que vive
Quiero que mires a los ojos
Para que veas como vivo libre

Ya no tengo miedo
Ni vivo en la vergüenza de lo que soy
Aprendí a quererme y a perdonar el odio en tu voz

Quiero que me llames JOTO y me abraces
Como tu hijo que soy

– Yosimar Reyes