No in english all definite and indefinite articles are neutral. When we want to identify the sex of something we say he or she. If we want to tack on the sex of something it is an adjective the female dog, the male child or we have a noun that carries the information. The woman, the man, the cow, the bull.
Nope, actually when you use "this" you're giving some extra information. You're saying that thing is near to you. Somebody could ask "¿qué es eso?" ("what is that?") -"Eso es sal" (THAT is salt). You wouldn't say "this" here, would you?
I see there is a mistake people usually make: adding more information. It's like the ones who ask "If it says "ella", why the translation "woman" is wrong?" Hey! "ella" could also be a girl, so let's no assume that if we want to learn it properly.
I think really what the question should be is, "what is the translation of it?" mitaine56, although your response does follow Spanish grammar rules, "IT" IS ALWAYS OMITTED. He/she is rarely ever implied to distinguish from "it." There is no subject pronoun for "it" at all. You can also just think that es means "is" if preceded by a pronoun, and, in most cases, "it's" if there is no subject. The same applies with the plural of "it," typically called "they" in English. Without a pronoun, son means "they (it plural) are." E.g. Son paredes. (They are walls.)
Please don't confuse this rule with other points of view (first/second person). "Soy alto" means I am tall,l with the "I" as mitaine56 says, being implied.
Actually, regular nouns are feminine if they end in -a (la plaza), -z (la naríz), -d (la pared), or -ión (la televisión). Also plurals, so -as, -ces,(z changes to c) -des, or -iones. Also, irregular nouns can be feminine (la mano).
As for -e ending nouns, they can go either way.
hombre (man) = masculine (of course! you wouldn't want a feminine man!) peine (comb) = masculine padre (father) = masculine (no feminine dads)
However: noche = feminine clase = feminine madre = feminine (no masculine mothers, either.)
-e nouns are split about 50/50.