An entire vocabulary has evolved

It’s not just the Yale philosophy department (or one member of it). Yale Medicine advertises its “Transgender Glossary: Terms You Can Learn” on Facebook. It was published in March.

An entire vocabulary has evolved around people who are transgender, and if you’re not familiar with the latest terms, you can easily hurt someone’s feelings, even if that’s not your intention. Figuring out a person’s terms can be challenging—the lexicon includes words with meanings that have changed over time and could change again. And because each transgender person is navigating their own path, the best words to use in a conversation with them could vary depending on their circumstances.

It’s funny how no other oppressed or marginalized group has ever made such a nonsensical demand. It’s funny how all this Reform Your Language is for trans ideology and nothing else.

It’s such a ridiculous trap, and thus such an impertinent, indeed outrageous demand. The vocabulary is always changing, and if you don’t memorize it and stay up to date you will hurt someone’s feelings. Hey what about our feelings? What about our feelings of rage and disgust on being told such things?

Learning the jargon may be difficult, because it has changed before and could change again, but don’t you dare get it wrong. Hahaha sucks to be you. It varies with each person so actually there’s just no way you can get it right, but you have to, hahaha, sucks to be you.

No one is expected to get this right at first, but you could make a huge difference to a transgender person by being knowledgeable and sensitive about language, says Christy Olezeski, PhD, director and co-founder of the Yale Pediatric Gender Program, which cares for transgender and nonbinary people up to the age of 25.

Hey I have an idea! How about if, instead, a transgender person makes a huge difference to me by not making any of these demands and just getting on with life like the rest of us? How about if nobody demands that we use a special vocabulary that shifts constantly, just for Special Them?

“It’s really about respect,” Olezeski says. “This isn’t anything new. Transgender and nonbinary people are everywhere.”

It’s the opposite of respect. It’s pandering. It’s babying. It’s wrapping in cotton wool and indulging. It’s not good for people.

Queer: An umbrella term for those who think of their gender identity or sexual orientation as being outside of societal norms. Once considered a derogatory term, “queer” has been reclaimed by many within the LGBTQIA+ community as a term of empowerment, but still may be considered offensive by some, especially if used by a person who is not in the community.

No shit, so what are you telling us? Use it but don’t use it? Use it but be aware that “some” of those pesky Ls and Gs may hate it and hate you for saying it? How do we know who is “in the community” and who isn’t? Especially when it’s such an incoherent “community” and so riven with conflict over exactly this issue?

It’s one long cringe.

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