What`s behind neutral and inclusive language, by Pri Bertucci


“ When we drop fear (…) we can draw nearer
to all the heavenly creatures that surround us.”

bell hooks

For starters 

First of all, I’d like to acknowledge the nations Karijó (or Guarani), Tupinikim, Tupinambá, Kaiapó, and Guayanás. These are the indigenous peoples that have lived and managed, for generations, this land where I am today, the East Side of São Paulo. I acknowledge these peoples as the true keepers of this land in the past, present, and future.

The objective of this declaration is to show respect for the indigenous peoples and to acknowledge their long-standing relationship with the land. To practice the acknowledgment of the land is a traditional custom that has been done for centuries by many nations, and indigenous and non-indigenous communities, to increase the awareness of histories that are often suppressed or forgotten. I bid everyone to reflect on the idea of always starting public events and gatherings with an acknowledgment of the land, as a form of acknowledgment of the traditional native inhabitants of the colonized lands where we find ourselves.

Now is the time to start to restore the relationships with the indigenous communities and the land! We transform by incorporating new practices through time – and it’s repetition that gives us consciousness within the community. This is an invitation to practice, in this time of continuous changes and losses.

This is an invitation to see the world differently and to get to know broader spaces. We need a more encompassing language, with more specific definitions, capable of naming “new” ideas, and that allows us to be, to express ourselves, and to move forward, instead of receding into destructive narratives of ideologic morality.

Nature’s language simply is, and our challenge today is to understand this form of communication. My mission and purpose are to use neutral and inclusive language based on a pattern that is closer to nature. It’s the same form of communication used between networks of plants and living beings that understand each other and keep the balance of an ecosystem.

Until now, we’ve perceived reality in a very limited way. The universe’s organization shares the same archetype, and we need linguistic abilities to perceive that intelligence and communicate with nature. Firstly, we need to transform and free ourselves of our so-called  Biased Conditions (BC). That is, the teachings that we’ve learned by repetition. Then, we need to understand that we are all born with a primordial capacity for connection and cooperation.

But many of us are lost along the way. Notice how we’ve become ill: reality is the reflection of the way of life that is based on separation and polarization. We think in a Cartesian format of “you against me” of “them against us”. Man or woman. Right or left. Black or white.

We talk of winners and losers because that is the language of conflict and war. The language of nature, on the other hand, is based on connections capable of creating very different thoughts and experiences. Consequently, that is how a new reality is created. 

Our evolution as a species is threatened and we’ve started to accept that a big paradigm shift is on the horizon. This always evokes tensions.

For a decade now, I’ve quoted Fritjof Capra’s film, “The Turning Point” in all of my lectures: “It’s foolish for a society to attach itself to old ideas in new times, as it would be foolish for a person to try to wear their childhood clothes.”

We live in the age of technology and we have become much more intellectualized, but we still live in a masculine society centered on the knowledge of the left side of the brain. We are, therefore, moving away from our nature, which is to be in touch with our feelings.

The amount of information shared online every day is unprecedented. Its consequences are already noticeable. Technology makes information more accessible and shareable at super high speeds. However, this threatens our collective sanity and threatens the more sustainable models of civilization with which we dream so often. We’ve become a generation of scrolling-addicted people, searching for the next “like”. Below the surface of that behavior is the search for acceptance, belonging, and connection.

Interconnection is what makes us what we are. We know that, at a cellular level, communities survive better than individuals. That is why we search for connection – because our survival depends on it.

Language also changes at high speeds. The correct manner to speak about people, their identities, genders, bodies, and geographies is in constant shift. The terms contained in this dossier, even if defined precisely, can be transformed, re-signified, substituted, or even go extinct after some time. Therefore, we know that in writing this document, we are creating something that’s instantly dated.

Nonetheless, the knowledge contained in these pages is necessary and urgent: neutral and inclusive language can help to propel us beyond binarity and the social polarization that we face at this moment in history. Neutral and inclusive language is not only a neo language but the recovery of a language.

From this perspective, how to define what is true and what isn’t? What is and isn’t authentic?

Post-modernity, fake news, fact manipulation, and post-truths have made everything seem questionable and subjective. The excess of subjectivity may be the great trap into which we are all falling. But I raise the question, based on the idea proposed by the Nigerian author and researcher Bayo Akomolafe: is truth actually subjective?

Skepticism, irony, and the rejection of universalist thinking are typical of post-modernity, which considers a delirium the notion that there would only be one way to see the world. Seeing only one objective reality of morality and truth is a failed model of civilization, whose nefarious effects are well known and we no longer want them. 

However, the pots-modernist social contract is often characterized by self-consciousness, self-referentiality, relativism, and pluralism. It proposes an attitude of chivalry and hesitance towards truth.

We want to provoke a reflection on the dangers that surround a social contract that encourages people to say “this is my truth and that is your truth” or “we don’t need to agree”. We don’t have a common reference nowadays, absolutely everything becomes biased and subjective for the majority. I see this as a social disease of the 21st century.

And what if we examine more deeply the two polarities of these belief systems (universalism x relativism) and go beyond? We still need something as a reference and on which we can support ourselves for there to be a common sense of responsibility, ethics, and reparation.

An example is the LGBTQIAP+ “Tower of Babel” created in many countries, and especially in Brazil. Here, there is no common understanding or sense of what are expressions of gender, gender identity, and “sex” (body/genital), not even by professionals and organizations of the field of diversity. So, some people still make the mistake of, for example, thinking that a cisgender man can identify himself as transmasculine; that a lesbian woman can self-denominate as travesti; or that there are concepts such as “non-binary man” and “non-binary woman”. These identifications are forms of misunderstanding gender policies as a whole – or some form of nefarious political manipulation.

Without an outline, boundaries, and without naming our existences and experiences, we run the risk of imploding in our notions of reality and losing ourselves in an endless maze of mirrors.

We don’t have to reinvent the wheel

The words we use to communicate are more than just words. They are a direct connection with the neurons in our brains.

What our ancestors tell us is that the language used to transmit the secret acoustic vibration of communication is truly where the action is. Important scientific research has shown that there is a connection between language and our biology. Our nervous system can react to the frequencies emitted by each word.

Gregg Braden, an American scientist and writer, talks about a study on the impact that linguistic changes have on the brain and, consequently, on reality.

The American linguist Benjamin Lee Worth, on the other hand, has studied how speech influences the way we think. According to him, language is connected to the way our nervous system is programmed. Working with the Hopi indigenous nation, in the north of the State of Arizona, United States, Worth understood that these peoples think about nature and human beings’ relationship to nature in a very particular way. Everything alive is seen as interconnected and present in the now, since the concept of time of the Hopi nation is very different than what we use today. 

With a language based on connection, the Hopi people see the world from the optics of connectivity, opportunity, liveliness, and cooperation.

This is equivalent to saying that our ancestral peoples had nature’s knowledge in their language, the knowledge of the land, and of cycles. That’s what we need to recover. After all, language is a powerful tool to deconstruct our concepts of normality, biases, and prejudices.

In the Americas, there have always been the Two-Spirit. These are people who existed between man and woman, masculine and feminine, and that experienced gender non-binarity, transgender identities, and non-heteronormative affectionate-sexual orientations. They were considered special, the village shamans, with access to both worlds and responsible for the balance of the community.

The Two-Spirit people performed important roles and were an integral part of the tribal social structure. Today, they fight to regain the place of honor they had before colonization. That’s why it’s so important to save the forest and the indigenous peoples from the white man’s fire and destruction. We need this ancestral wisdom and nature’s language to guide us once more to a state of integration.

The boundaries are necessary

We need to draw boundaries and understand that not everything is subjective.

Without these boundaries, we run the risk of losing ourselves and living only in the conflict of polarization, without integration. We need to dismantle the false post-modernist belief that any limit is bad or that placing something in a “box” is negative. Anyone who has children knows that limits are necessary. Boundaries are placed out of love and for our children’s survival. We need to do the same for this and future generations.

We invite the reconstruction of these boxes, the creation of a wider space, and of more specific labels that allow us to be, express ourselves, and to move forward. 

I believe there is an in-between point, the Middle Path, which is the base of many ancestral philosophies, and that can serve as a reference. Our civilization is real, but it’s mutant. And so are our languages and our concepts, which evolve with our consciousness. The world is emerging and moving chaotically, and it cannot be reduced to our arrogance, be it by the will to control the masses or by absolute freedom and emancipation. 

Instead of a post-truth world, we propose a world where our bases are acknowledged: humanity, connection, and interdependency. We propose a return to nature and to the land that contains us, the possible acknowledgment of our ancestral knowledge, and the understanding that everything is interconnected – past, present, and future. We propose that the social model be based on abundance instead of scarcity, in cooperation instead of competition, and in mutuality and empowerment.

We need to realize that this planetary culture of whiteness and of cis-heteropatriarchy, which is based on the imposition of truths by force, on scarcity and separation, is no longer wanted for men, women, and non-binary people. We are all hostages of this CIStem. And we are now collectively divorcing the impostor. We are divorcing this system that has betrayed us; it’s a marriage we never wanted, that is toxic and cruel. This belief system robs the land of its fluids and fabrics and destroys the forests. It’s the same system that rapes women and kills Black, indigenous, and LGBTQIAP+ people; that has a phallic stance towards nature; that dismisses the technology of the forest; and that so urgently needs to be re-balanced. With the repudiation of nature, our notions of reality are imploding and, with them, our social and linguistic configurations. 

So, I invite you to reflect on the following question: if our concepts are a reflection of what’s happening in the world, if wars and conflicts emerge from that, what language are you feeding? What words are you inserting into the matrix? What words are you using to direct your biology?

When you become aware of the language you use, a new realm of possibilities is opened. That’s the power of the Divine Matrix, according to Gregg Braden: the power to understand the role of language in directing possibilities within the matrix.


Social artist, educator, and researcher in the field of diversity for the past two decades, Pri Bertucci identifies himself as a non-white, transgender/non-binary person. He’s CEO of the consulting firm DIVERSITY BBOX, founder of the SSEX BBOX Institute; co-creator of the gender-neutral pronoun in Portuguese “ILE/DILE” and he’s responsible for the adaptation of neutral language in Portuguese. He’s a founder and executive producer of the Trans Pride Parade of São Paulo, the biggest trans event in Latin America.

Mail: pri@diversitybbox.com