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Gender star

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This sign, reading Radfahrer absteigen (Cyclists, dismount), has been vandalized with a gender star to make it gender-neutral.

The gender star (German: Genderstern, or diminutive Gendersternchen; lit.'gender asterisk') is a nonstandard typographic style used by some authors in gender-neutral language in German.[1] It is formed by placing an asterisk after the stem and appending the feminine plural suffix "-innen". For example, Fahrer ([male] driver, singular & plural) becomes Fahrer*innen (drivers). The gender star makes it possible to refer to all genders while also including non-binary people.[2]

Alternatives to the gender star include Binnen-I (with medial capital I), the gender gap (where an underscore takes the place of the asterisk) or using inherently gender neutral terms, such as 'people' instead of 'man' or 'woman'.[3] The gender star was named the German Anglicism of the Year in 2018 by the Leibniz-Institut für Deutsche Sprache.[4]


In speech, the gender star is sometimes signaled by a glottal stop.[5][6]


The use of the gender star can be traced back to 2013.[7] It has been used by the Berlin Senate since 2017,[8] and the German Green Party since 2015.[9][10]


In 2019, the German Language Association VDS (Verein Deutsche Sprache; not to be confused with the Association for the German Language Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache, GfdS) launched a petition against the use of the gender star, saying it was a "destructive intrusion" into the German language and created "ridiculous linguistic structures". It was signed by over 100 writers and scholars.[11] Luise F. Pusch, a German feminist linguist, criticises the gender star as it still makes women the 'second choice' by the use of the feminine suffix.[12] In 2020, the Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache declared Gendersternchen to be one of the 10 German Words of the Year.[13]

In 2023, the state of Saxony banned the use of gender stars and gender gaps in schools and education, which marks students' use of the gender stars as incorrect.[14][15] In March 2024, Bavaria banned gender-neutral language in schools, universities and several other public authorities.[16][17] In April 2024, Hesse banned the use of gender neutral language, including gender stars, in administrative language.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Loxton, Rachel (1 November 2019). "From Fräulein to the gender star: Germany's language revolution". The Local. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  2. ^ Berger, Miriam (15 December 2019). "A guide to how gender-neutral language is developing around the world". The Washington Post. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  3. ^ Walser, Franziska (September 2019). "Gender: how fair is the German language?". Alumniportal Deutschland. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  4. ^ "Anglizismus des Jahres 2018". Leibniz-Institut für Deutsche Sprache. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  5. ^ Bukenberger, Carina (22 January 2020). "Wie spricht man einen Genderstern?". Leonarto (in German). Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  6. ^ Stefanowitsch, Anatol (9 June 2018). "Gendergap und Gendersternchen in der gesprochenen Sprache". Sprachlog.de (in German). Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  7. ^ Johnson, Ian (7 March 2019). "Gender neutral wording is making German ridiculous, asserts association". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  8. ^ Steinhauer, Anja; Diewald, Gabriele (1 October 2017). Richtig gendern: Wie Sie angemessen und verständlich schreiben [Gendering correctly: How to Write Appropriately and Understandably]. Berlin: Bibliographisches Institut Duden. p. 46. ISBN 978-3-411-91250-6. OCLC 1011112208.
  9. ^ Meiritz, Annett (18 November 2015). "Grüne wollen den Gender-* ganz groß rausbringen". Der Spiegel (in German). Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  10. ^ Riese, Dinah (19 November 2015). "Die Grünen und der Gender-Star: Mehr als nur Mann und Frau". Die Tageszeitung. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  11. ^ "Der Aufruf und seine Erstunterzeichner". Verein Deutsche Sprache (in German). 6 March 2019. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  12. ^ Schlüter, Nadja (22 April 2019). ""Das Gendersternchen ist nicht die richtige Lösung"". Jetzt.de (in German). Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  13. ^ "GfdS Wort des Jahres" (in German). Retrieved 13 December 2020.
  14. ^ Jones, Sam; Willsher, Kim; Oltermann, Philip; Giuffrida, Angela (2023-11-04). "What's in a word? How less-gendered language is faring across Europe". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2024-04-05.
  15. ^ "Schools in Saxony are forbidden to use gender language". cne.news. Retrieved 2024-04-05.
  16. ^ "Gender ban in Bavaria: This is what happens according to the Ministry of the Interior when it is ignored | West Observer". 2024-04-01. Retrieved 2024-04-05.
  17. ^ "German state of Bavaria bans gender-sensitive language in schools and other public bodies". AP News. 2024-03-19. Retrieved 2024-04-05.
  18. ^ robertsemonsen (2024-04-03). "Germany: Hesse Becomes Second State To Ban Gender Neutral Language". europeanconservative.com. Retrieved 2024-04-05.