Date of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


LACS: French Studies

First Advisor

Karen Humphreys


The French language has encountered much controversy as early as the Renaissance. The most recent debates concern the representation of gender and/or lack thereof. As a gender based language, French is grammatically constructed through the rigid boundaries of male and female genders. As such, it does not allow for the self expression or representation of anyone identifying outside of these categories. Consequently, gender neutrality is currently a topic of public dispute, demonstrating the controversial nature of the French language. There have, however, been attempts to work around the language as well as to alter the language in response to this controversy and to promote inclusivity while challenging both the discrimination and misogny it perpetuates.

I examine the numerous movements and attempts that have been made as well as the linguistic approaches to gender throughout Anne Garréta’s Sphinx, Monique Wittig’s Les Guérillères, and Adel Tincelin’s On n’a que deux vies. Garréta remains within the gendered confines of the French language, yet she never indicates the gender of the two main characters. Wittig utilizes a form of écriture inclusive through eliminating the masculine pronoun “il(s)” and substituting it with the feminine pronoun “elle(s)”. Tincelin tells of their transitionary experience with nonbinary language and specifically the nonbinary relationship with words. These contemporary texts all serve as a response to the recent controversies regarding French as a gender-based language. By analyzing these literary works, I demonstrate the literary transformations of discriminatory linguistic structures towards gender inclusivity in French language.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in French Studies.