While in an individual instance, word elimination may seem perfectly justified (especially in cases where the term has a long history of being used predominantly as a slur), the reality is that any and all words can be readily subjected to this sort of defamation - even our personal favorites!Over the years, I have witnessed word elimination campaigns against virtually every trans-related word that I can think of (many specific examples are listed here).If a term does not appear here, it does not mean that it is illegitimate; it simply means that it is not one that I regularly use in my writings.
What happens to trans folks who have long used a particular term as part of their activism when other trans activists deem that word to be anachronistic or problematic for some reason?
Will the former group now be painted as “out of step” with the community, or accused of “reinforcing the oppression” the group faces?
And nearly every single word that refers to some aspect of transgender identities, bodies, or life experiences exists in a perpetual state of debate or dispute, with individual trans people espousing differing word preferences and alternative definitions.
In Chapter 45, I describe this lightning-speed language evolution as the Activist Language Merry-Go-Round: In response to the societal stigma that permeates everything associated with trans people (including the words used to describe us), we are constantly inventing new untainted terms and/or reclaiming, redefining, or eliminating older ones.
While this might generally be true for glossaries of terms related to geology, grammar, or guitars, it most certainly is not the case for trans-related terminology.
Many of the words and phrases listed here are only several decades old (if that), so they are by no means set in stone.Yet, word elimination strategies insist that any negative usage (whether present or past, commonplace or occasional, real or perceived) automatically trumps all potentially neutral, positive, or productive uses of the term.Instead of condemning the words themselves, we should instead focus our attention on the ways in which people are using, misusing, or abusing them.I subsequently discussed this phenomenon further here, here, and in the introductory essay above. : a person who is not a member of a particular minority or marginalized group, but who works to challenge the discrimination that group faces.While allies are necessary and generally viewed in a positive light, activists may sometimes express ambivalent or suspicious feelings toward them for reasons I touch on in Outspoken, pp. : a neologism I created for people who at certain points in their lives have been happy in monogamous relationships, and at other times have been happy in ethically non-monogamous/polyamorous relationships (see Outspoken, pp. My intention was to show that these relationship statuses do not comprise a strict binary, nor a hierarchy where one is inherently more moral, healthy, or evolved than the other.Here is an analogy to help illustrate this dilemma: I have been a guitarist for about thirty years, and during that time, guitar-related language has barely changed at all.And the reason why it hasn’t changed is that guitarists are not marginalized in our culture - thus everything associated with guitar playing (including terminology) is generally free of negative connotations.This is the online glossary for my third book: Outspoken: A Decade of Transgender Activism and Trans Feminism.It begins with a brief introductory essay, followed by the glossary itself (which you can skip ahead to by clicking that link).However, if guitarists did face severe stigma and undue scrutiny in our culture, then I can assure you that there would be debates over language and calls to eliminate or replace certain words.Some guitar activists would likely argue that the phrase “minor chord” trivializes our existence; that the word “fret” gives the false impression that people should be afraid of us; that “power chord” and “hammer on” play into media stereotypes of guitarists as violent; that “pickup” and “G string” perpetuate the sexualization of guitarists.