Really, it’s not that difficult

Here’s a handy transgender language guide. It’s surprisingly easy to follow.

Why, you’d have to be an idiot, an insensitive jerkwad, or someone who profits from their obtuseness to be able to follow it.

Oh, hi, Jordan Peterson! What made you think I was summoning you to this discussion?


  1. Infophile says

    Hmm, didn’t know that “trans*” was now disfavoured. Good to know. I couldn’t find a clear answer to why by following through to the link, but I’m guessing that it’s because it implicitly lumps in transvestites with transgender individuals. Anyone want to chime in on if I’m right on this guess, or if there’s another reason?

  2. says

    I think different people will give you different accounts of why “trans*” was rejected. Julia Serano has one account here. And I’ve heard from other people that the issue is that it’s trying to cover transgender and transsexual experiences, implying that “trans” does not already do so.

  3. quotetheunquote says

    RE: Dr. Jordie Pettyson

    Thanks for the link – glad to see that Tabatha is writing again, I miss her in the Globe & Mail. (They fired her and kept that uninformed plagiarist Wente on, grumble grumble…)

  4. Samantha says

    @infophile: I’m transgender and I didn’t know either. I’ve seen it in active use in transgender communities, so I think it may be a matter of which community you’re interacting with.

  5. Allison says

    Maybe it’s because it’s TDoR, and hearing those long lists of the murdered is such a downer, or maybe it’s just that I’m a grouch, but these lists just annoy me.

    It’s yet another case where people think that if they can fix the language, they can fix the reality. I mean, in the past 60+ years, I’ve seen the PC term for African-Americans change a bunch of times, but it doesn’t seem to have eliminated racism. Most of the items on the list I couldn’t care less about (transgender vs. transgendered — come on!)

    As a trans person, the things that matter to me are:

    1. Not getting murdered, beaten up, assaulted, or threatened for being who I am.
    2. Being able to live my life as myself as if (!) I were a “normal person.” E.g., w/o bathroom bills.
    3. Not having my experience of myself — or my existence — be invalidated or considered a legitimate subject of debate. (It wasn’t so long ago that there was a bitter debate on just that score here at FtB.)
    4. Having my name and gender (pronouns and gendered terms) respected.

    I consider myself very, very privileged as a trans person that I’ve never had to actually worry about #1 or #2, and #3 only on-line. But I know people who have. I wish people who want to be allies would spend more time worrying about the stuff that actually affects the lives of my trans sisters and brothers.

    Grumpily yours,

  6. robro says

    “Transgender” is an adjective, not a noun or a verb.

    I have no idea if the rationale is similar, but in the mental health realm there is a movement not to identify people with their specific condition. So, for example, it’s preferred to say “He’s a person with schizophrenia” rather than “He’s schizophrenic.” This avoids simplistic classifications that obscure the whole, complicated person which can contribute to stigmatization.

    There was one fellow in the NAMI family program I went through last year who first brought this up in our group, and made the case repeatedly as the rest of us would slip into conventional usage. He was a mental health professional himself who was diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder, so his position was persuasive. It’s still difficult to break old habits even when you recognize they’re bad habits.

  7. sowa says

    Language guide… My goodness…
    So apparently for “cis scum” is not enough to just bow before their new trans masters, oh no! You need to lie down flat on your belly. Seriously, this is a thing I would expect to be handed when arriving to Soviet Union or any other dictatorship nightmare.

    Of course it starts with emotional blackmail and doesn’t fail to mention how much fasCISts (hehe) hurt good and pure trans people just by opening their mouths.
    Of course words and phrases being around for years in discourse are suddenly “no-no”, even though they carry no pejorative meaning whatsoever.
    Of course talking about biological sex is haram.
    Of course word “tranny” is… wait, this one is actually legitimate complain. Wow.
    Of course including word “preffered” in your question about pronouns is tab.. wait what

    You know what, I would rather stick to being “an idiot, an insensitive jerkwad, or someone who profits from their obtuseness” (take your pick) than give any credit to language policing so obvious, so insidious and so… insolent. It seems like nowadays everything that carries label “trans” must be accepted without any question, slightest doubt or critique, otherwise you are “an idiot, insensitive jerkwad, blablablah”. Don’t like female erasure? Well, FUCK OFF TERF! You object to bullying of homosexuals, especially lesbians? SUCK ON MY LADY DICK! You have serious doubts about transitioning children? DIE IN FIRE CIS SCUM!
    Sorry for profanity but this is the level of discourse you validate. I hope you feel good about yourself.

  8. says

    You know what, I would rather stick to being “an idiot, an insensitive jerkwad, or someone who profits from their obtuseness” (take your pick)

    OK. I pick the first two. I hope you’re not profiting from your obnoxiousness.

  9. John Morales says

    sowa, I for one appreciate your comment; it is very illustrative of a certain form of uninformed reactance.

    I particularly like how “The guide explains key terms and offers examples of language that can help us build safer, more inclusive environments for trans and gender diverse communities.” becomes “So apparently for “cis scum” is not enough to just bow before their new trans masters, oh no! You need to lie down flat on your belly.”

    (Another example of Lewis’ Law in action)

  10. vucodlak says

    @ sowa, #7

    Oh shut the fuck up.

    You know why you’re scum, sowa? It has fuck-all to do with your gender. No, you’re scum because you treat the least little bit politeness ASKED of us as some terrible burden.

    No one is suggesting that if we misspeak (or commit a faux pas or make a typo or whatever) that we should be imprisoned or shot or fined or ostracized. This list is merely people asking to be treated with the same courtesy that you take for granted. Is that so difficult? Is it such an imposition to as that you think for half a second before you speak?

    I mean seriously. “Insolent”? I could be nice and assume you’re too stupid to know what that means, or what it implies that you used that word, but we both know that you know exactly what you meant. So, from the bottom of this cis man’s twisted, withered heart: GO FUCK YOURSELF YOU LAZY ASSHOLE.

  11. says

    Difficult? I found that totally incomprehensible. But that’s probably just me.

    I don’t mind if people identify sexually or gender-wise in some non-binary way. Whatever floats your boat, it’s their business not mine. So hopefully people won’t get too offended if I accidentally get this stuff wrong. Isn’t that a fair compromise?

  12. says

    Erlend Meyer:

    Difficult? I found that totally incomprehensible.

    if I accidentally get this stuff wrong.

    When you wave off a simple list as ‘totally incomprehensible’, so you won’t put off any effort whatsoever, you wouldn’t be “accidentally” getting anything wrong. That would be deliberate. Nice of you to warn people you’ll be content to hurt them, because lists, so incomprehensible!

  13. says

    As the first JPEG states, trans and gender diverse communities suffer from prejudice, discrimination and violence. This is of course appalling and I will fight for their right as human beings.
    I just find the nuances confusing, somehow they just won’t stick. Every time I read about this topic I need to consult a dictionary to get my bearings, so chances are I will get something wrong sooner or later. I just hope this won’t detract from the bigger issue.

  14. Holms says

    What is ‘TDoR’?

    Anyway, to add to your point, the list is almost certain to undergo the same process you mention regarding ‘African-American’ and related terms; namely, euphamism creep. It will probably be in need of update in 6 months.

    There are plenty of examples of this in many illnesses, physical as well as psychological. For example, you point to “he’s schizophrenic” as an example forumlation to avoid, but there are plenty like this all over medicine: “he’s diabetic / catatonic / bulimic / vegetative” and others. I think it comes down to frequency of use, with medical staff conveying information quickly out of habit, which then becomes part of english even outside of the medical professions.

    Ultimately, I think it relatively unimportant for similar reasons mentioned by Allison’s #5: the terminology does not imply particular treatment.

  15. jack16 says

    The list is not handy for me. Gets all blurry with those colors. Get me something in black and white that I can handle with “NoSquint”.

    Are the “yays” supposed to be connected to the “nays”?


  16. says

    When prescriptivists write whole textbooks on what they think is good writing, it’s called education. But when trans people make a few infographics, it’s the Soviet Union all over again.

  17. Acolyte of Sagan says

    Why, you’d have to be an idiot, an insensitive jerkwad, or someone who profits from their obtuseness to be able to follow it.

    Shouldn’t that read ‘…..not to be able…’?

  18. says

    Smellin’ a lot of TERF talking points coming off of ‘sowa’ above.

    “Female erasure” is a big one. So is “transitioning children” – the word ‘transitioning’ here is not a participle, it is an active verb with an elided subject, as in ‘{someone} is transitioning children’. “Biological sex” is damn near their shibboleth; they are obsessed with woman = uterus, never mind that BIOLOGICALLY ‘sex’ is a bucket of individual anatomical features that each may or may not match the expected common clusters, never mind that no transphobe has ever managed to produce a ‘biological sex’ definition that excludes all trans women AND includes all cis women…

  19. blf says

    What is ‘TDoR’?

    Context and Generalissimo Google suggest it’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is today (well, yesterday, in my local time now), every 20-November: “a day to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia and to draw attention to the continued violence endured by the transgender community.”

  20. blf says

    Get me something in black and white that I can handle with “NoSquint”.

    Doesn’t have to be B&W, but higher contrast would certainly help people with poor vision (I also have trouble reading such low-contrast text). And — not too certain here — the pink-and-blue colouration is perhaps quite hard for red–blue colourblind people to read. (And while we are on design issues, the coloured background really eats up the expensive coloured ink in a printer.)

    Having said that, there is a high-contrast B&W version at the link in the OP (PDF).

  21. beardymcviking says

    I’m a cishet male without any particular stake in all this, but how hard is it to just read something and appreciate that you could make some people’s lives a little better by trying to not be awful?

    I know I’ll stuff up sometimes on pronouns or terms, but I appreciate this infographic because I’d like to try to be less awful to the people around me, and this helps :)

  22. Samantha says

    Seems like my first comment got eaten somehow …
    Just wanted to add that while I have no problems with this list (it seems pretty safe), don’t take it as gospel. Trans people are a very diverse and individualistic bunch, and what is ok for one person might trigger another person due to differences in history and sensitivities. It may also change over time. I personally don’t currently care whether people call me “he”, “she” or “they”, but I can already feel this will change in the future.
    Transitioning (whether physically or not) is such an individual process that no two trans people I have met so far are alike (despite some shared experiences) and thus may react to language very differently. My advice to people genuinely concerned about treating trans people well is to simply find out what the person you’re talking to prefers (if possible without making a big deal about it).

  23. rietpluim says

    Note that there are no euphemisms in the graph. Everything is said just as it is – which is exactly what the graph inspires us to do. “Trans” is not the opposite of “straight” so it is pretty obvious that we shouldn’t use these words as if they are. To be fair, the adjective / noun thing seems a bit nitpicking, but it is only nitpicking to those who are not subject to marginalization. I hope one day trans people will wear the noun “trans” with pride. But it is not up to me to tell them when that day has come.

  24. tarski says

    Caine@24: the complaint wasn’t about text size, it was about text contrast.

    The image in your link does not meet the minimum contrast standard for web content accessibility even for large text. The contrast ratio of the pink-on-pink text is 2.31:1 and that of the blue-on-pink text is 2.02:1. The minimum standard for large text is 3:1. But the text in the image you linked to is not large by the relevant definition.

    Since it’s not large text, it fails to meet the accessibility criterion by an even greater margin; the minimum standard requires this text to have a contrast ratio of 4.5:1. Because of this, ACON provided a more accessible version of the document, one which meets and exceeds the contrast standards for readable text. The accessible document was linked to by the people you were mocking about smarts and accomplishment. The version you linked is, again, not accessible.

    Responding to complaints about a document being inaccessible by both mocking the people who can’t read it and linking to a second inaccessible version of the document is unkind blustering.

  25. sowa says

    Oh well, not like I expected it to turn into fruitful discussion or anything. Does that make me a troll? Hmm…

    @PZ Myers #10
    Thank you, I’m doing fine.

    @John Morales #11
    YES. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, of course, it’s ALL about building inclusive diverse trolololo. Nothing questionable. Move along, citizen.

    @vukodlak #12
    Wow, that was… well, quite an outburst. Are you okay? Anyways, I guess you can congratulate yourself for doing THE RIGHT THING, on the other hand… it kind of shows what I mean. Somebody here even dropped a TERF bomb. Oh well… At least you were right on lazy asshole.

  26. says

    @29 sowa

    Somebody here even dropped a TERF bomb.

    Accurately predicting that you would be described with an entirely appropriate term does not make the term less appropriate. You’re just here to spread a message of hate.

    Word of advice: Don’t pick a fight with the blog owner. I see you’ve already started down that path.

  27. vucodlak says

    @ sowa, #29

    Oh, I’m just dandy. I always have a good laugh at people who accuse me of being holier-than-thou. No, sowa, I don’t think I’m a righteous person. I’m a very, very bad person. It’s not because I’m cis, or a man, or white. I’m a terrible person because a big part of me revels in terrible things.

    The reason I care so much about things like the suggestions linked in the post is that they give me something concrete to hold on to, so that I can better understand how NOT to hurt people. Rules. I need rules. That big part of me hates them, but that just convinces me I need them all the more.

    I don’t want to be a monster. And the reason I get so pissed off at jumped-up little trolls like you is that I don’t think you have the first idea what that means. For you, this is just a game you have no stake in.

    It’s not a game to the people who made that chart, who are just asking for the respect people like you consider their due. Not even that; you’ve already made it clear that you consider yourself above those people, as well as the commenters here. You’re probably better than me, true, but I could hardly damn you with fainter praise than that.

    The people who made this chart aren’t asking to be placed above anyone. They’re not asking for special treatment. They’re asking that they receive the same treatment as anyone who doesn’t have to ask for it. They shouldn’t even have to ask, but since they did, the very least we could do is listen.

  28. sowa says

    @abbyecadabra #31
    That’s a bit of a misconception. I can’t or rather I don’t want to be “radical feminist” because I’m pretty sure women are done with intrusive men claiming every label for themselves. “Hate” is a big word. Too big. Also I have no ill will towards Mr Myers himself. I admit though that my first two posts sound very confrontational and I probably should tone down a bit. I can be pretty fired up about certain issues.
    @vukodlak #32
    Believe it or not, there’s a fine line between being a monster and “amab penis-owner cis scum” (I wish I was making that up). I don’t want to preach you or anybody here (although I almost started). It’s the Internet, everything is within your grasp. Actually you don’t have to look that far – one of FtB bloggers who goes by “Shiv” occasionaly posts some pretty awful stuff. I mean you can decide by yourself. So let’s just leave it here, shall we?
    And please, don’t put yourself down so much. You don’t sound like possible monster or person worse than me. I might sound arrogant but actually I have my own issues I can’t exactly deal with.
    PS Sorry for bad formatting but I don’t seem to have any formatting toolbar here. I guess I should have one? I don’t know.