Is there any existing language that is gender neutral?

In all the hundreds of known languages, is there any existing language that is gender neutral? I don’t just mean that nouns are ungendered as in English, but also neutral pronouns, etc.? Is there any language in which one can, for instance, discuss a person without revealing his/her sex unintentionally? In English, one would just naturally use “he” or “she” in the course of discussion.

Is there any language in which sex/gender is only an intentional distinction?

All of these:

Incidentally, “hundreds of known languages” is an understatement. There are about seven thousand living languages. There are many others that are now dead.

From Wendell’s list, Finnish is a good example

"Finnish has only gender-neutral pronouns and completely lacks grammatical gender. The word hän is gender-neutral and means both “she” and “he”. The suffix -tar or -tär can be added to some words (mostly professions) to make them feminine if required, for example näyttelijä (actor), näyttelijätär (actress), but these forms are not commonly used any more; using the basic word for all genders, equally meaning female/male professions (näyttelijä for f/m actors) is the norm. "

A list which includes English, because “singular they” is real, is English, and is older than you so stop being so arrogant as to think you can peeve it out of existence.

The hurdle for English is gendered occupational titles, like “fireman” and “chairman”, but that fight was fought decades ago, and now “firefighter” and “chair” (or “chairperson”) are common enough they no longer raise whines except among the exceptionally over-sensitive, and, going the other direction, terms like “soldier” and “actor” have gone from being male-coded to genderless in many contexts.

I don’t have a problem with “singular they” but I have literally never heard it refer to a known, specific person. I’ve heard “Everyone should pick up their books.” rather than “Everyone should pick up his his books” or “Everyone should pick up his or her books”.But I’ve never heard “Frank should pick up their books” to mean Frank’s own books - in that construction we still gendered pronouns.

The amount of genderedness in a language is a sliding scale. There are languages where you can’t say “A person is at the door” without specifying whether the person is male or female. By that standard, English is not very gendered. There are languages like Finnish, in which pronouns don’t specify gender at all, and all you can say is “Frank should pick up X books” where the pronoun gives no indication of whether your talking about Franklin or Francine (I could have put “its” in place of “X” but in English that has an implication too, so I used X in place of the non-gendered pronoun that a Finn would use). The answer to the OP’s question is certainly yes, but whether we consider English gendered or not depends a lot on what our standard is.

Gender queer or Non-binary gender folks often prefer “they” to "him or “her”. That’s mainly where you’ll hear it.

The Showtime show Billions has a main character who is gender queer (or some sort of non-binary gender) and when the character first meets the boss, the dialog is: “My name is Taylor. My pronouns are they, them and their”. The other characters always refer to Taylor as “they”, even when they are royally pissed off at… them.

Even then, I’ve heard ze/hir/hirs more than they/them/theirs (which I’ve never heard at all, but may have seen in writing) . At any rate, neither gender-neutral set is common enough to say that English is genderless - IME most people give either “he” or “she” as their preferred pronoun (although which one doesn’t always match up with what I would have assumed if I didn’t ask)

Mandarin, pretty much.
Although there are different characters for he, she and it, they are all pronounced “ta” (also I recall hearing, don’t know if it’s true, that the different characters are a relatively recent change to the language, and they used to be written the same).

In the OP example of describing a person…yeah most people would actually mention the gender – girl, boy, man, woman. But it’s possible to say “I met a person” and it’s not as awkward as it sounds in English. And there’s a gender-neutral word for “partner”.

From the Wikipedia link -

“Bengali lacks grammatical gender. Pronouns and adjectives do not change regardless of the gender being addressed. Semantic gender does exist in nouns, although it would still be considered grammatically valid to omit gendered nouns when not explicitly describing the gender of the subject.”

My parents were forced immigrants to British made India from British made Bangladesh. I grew up learning the local language (Hindi) but my parents (especially my Mom) had a tough time. She could talk Hindi but got the genders mixed up. Many would laugh (in good spirits) at this. Even we as kids sometimes made fun of her.

But, now me living in USA, for so many years, life has come back full circle. And I see the benefits of having a gender less language. My mom says - “Who is laughing now!!??”

There’s no precise answer to the question in the OP because all languages are different. It’s not even quite a matter of there being a sliding scale in answering the question. Every language uses or doesn’t use gender in its constructions in a different way, and you can’t even put all languages on a sliding scale of how much they use it, since where it’s used in that language is different in each language. It’s the same as the answer you would get if you asked how many different colors a language can differentiate or what parts of speech the language has or what the order of words in a sentence in that language is or whether the language conjugates its verbs or whether there is declension of nouns or how many numbers can be expressed in the language or what concepts can be easily expressed in the language. I’m sorry. I know this sounds arrogant, but languages differ in so many ways that it’s hard to answer any question like this.

There’s much genderlessness in the Thai language. When referring to someone’s sibling, it is obligatory to give the age relationship (older or younger than the antecedent sibling) but the sibling’s gender is often omitted. On at least two occasions when my wife was relating some convoluted gossip and someone’s sibling was mentioned, I interrupted to ask for the gender and she didn’t know it. (Many nicknames are gender-ambiguous.)

Similarly the words for ‘aunt’ and ‘uncle’ are the same when connection is via a younger sibling. Children of my wife’s older sister call both my wife and I ‘Nah’ (maternal aunt/uncle). Children of my wife’s older brother call both of us ‘Ah’ (paternal aunt/uncle). But if my wife had younger siblings then, again, it would be older sibling whose gender is revealed with the aunt/uncle title.

Most pronouns are, at least somewhat, gender-ambiguous. ‘Theu’ is often a 3rd-person female but a man may feel flattered or flirted if a woman uses this to address him in 2nd-person. The 1st-person ‘Chan’ is nominally female but a youngish male may use it when addressing a superior.

OTOH, the formal titles for M.D. (medical doctor) are different for men and women.

The range of possible social implications of the myriad of Thai pronouns is beyond me. In some contexts, 2nd-person ‘Theu’ might be an insult … but I like to assume the best!

Dictionaries may be of little help. Pronouns used routinely in rural Thailand may be described as vulgar insults by higher-class Bangkokians.

I was going to come in with the Chinese example but was ninja’d.

To clarify, *spoken *Chinese is genderless but *written *clearly conveys gender (ex. different character for he and she respectively/他 and 她)

Fair enough. I was oversimplifying with my sliding scale comment.

People aren’t gender-neutral, so why should their languages be?

People also vary in height, age, hair color, left- or right-handedness (for throwing and for batting), whether they’re parents, and ability to juggle a soccer ball on their foot. But it would be awkward and nearly always useless to have separate pronouns for left- and right-handed people, or for any other characteristic. Why have separate ones for gender?

As an aside, how is “hir” supposed to be pronounced? To my eye, it looks like it would be pronounced the same as “her”, or very close to it, which would defeat the purpose.

That is a mismatch of concepts. You could just as easily say that people aren’t grammatical, people don’t contain verbs, and people aren’t based on an alphabet, therefore their languages don’t need to do any of those things.