Gender neutral Spanish (or any other "vulgar Latin" language)

A few days ago I got the chance to help a project with some Spanish translations. The original was in pretty neutral language, there were no assumptions about the gender of the users of the app and everything was fine and dandy.

I felt something was wrong as soon as I started translating into Spanish.

"Search users" would translate into "Buscar usuarios" which, if literally translated back to English, would mean "Search male users". "Create username" would be "Crear nombre de usuario" which, back in English would mean "Create a name for this male user". And so on.

The fundamental issue here is that Spanish (and it seems, all other vulgar Latin languages) are strongly gendered. Adjectives are declined to be gendered. Even more, there's no gender neutral pronoun in Spanish that you can use to refer to people (as you can do with they in English). There are neutral pronouns ---lo, ello--- but they are used to refer to objects. They are akin to using "it". You don't want to use that for people.

And so the traditional implicit understanding is that male pronouns (e.g. usuario) can refer to both male and female subjects. But in practise that might not quite work and can be even used to exert some sort of pressure over who is included in the group, or not. As a personal example, you can read my anecdote about trying to convert my first Basic book to be suitable for girls and not only boys. Language shapes society, whether we want to admit it or not.

I vented my frustration in Twitter and Raquel Vélez suggested using a pound sign in place of the last vowel-the one that denotes the gender. So instead of usuario I'd write usuari@. That is kind of OK, but I find it really tiring to read. And how do you say that aloud? "Usuarios y usuarias". It gets very tedious and distracts you from the actual contents.

My conclusion was that we evidently need new gender neutral pronouns for the 21st century. Unless there's some existing old, unknown pronoun that I have never heard about, in which case you should totally let me know so that I can start using it and stop feeling bad about excluding people in my texts!