A new chapter in exploring the language for trans persons began earlier this year as Facebook changed the gender options available to users. Some felt the myriad of choices were confusing, but in reality, Facebook really stepped up to the plate offering people choices that relate directly to how people self-identify. The linked story from there Boston Globe does a great job of moving that dialogue a bit further.

Some transgender people transition from one category to the other—he to she, or vice versa—and that’s that. For others, however, a sense of existing outside those categories has inspired new words or usages altogether. One approach to the pronoun conundrum has been the singular use of “they/them”; another is the creation of neutral third-person pronouns like “/hir,” and some college newspapers, including the Wesleyan Argus, allow for either depending on a source’s preference.

The dichotomy of male/female is a construct forced upon us that doesn’t fit the reality of real person’s lives and there is real power in coming to accept that right from the start. Male or female work for some people and not others, so let’s sort out language that helps treat everyone with respect and dignity?

Language for trans persons is not only a challenge to those who strive to maintain heteronormativity and the status quo. Even the medical profession is complicit. For as long as we know, doctors have chosen to perform surgery on news born babies with gender ambiguous bodies. Doctors decided these babies’ genders rather than nature or their genes! Opening up to a greater selection of terms for trans persons is also a challenge to the gay and lesbian community which has for the longest time, wanted to see things in another dichotomy. Some gay and lesbian activists want to force everyone into the categories of gay or straight. I tho this is why so much confusion was expressed after Facebook’s change and even within the queer community, the question was about if all of these choices were really needed.

But there are  needed, if we are going to allow everyone to self-identity!

If you identify as a person who is a bit confused about language and trans persons, this Boston Globe post can help you become more proficient in language and more fair and sensitive to trans persons.


via The quickly shifting language of the transgender community – Ideas – The Boston Globe.

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