The University of New Hampshire put out a “Bias-Free Language Guide” which is little more than a directory of politically correct Newspeak. They quickly deleted it, but the internet never forgets. It guide is so #FacePalm inducing, that a fisking is warranted.
The guide starts out with a touchy-feely quote from America’s favorite tampon jewelry aficionado, Melissa Harris-Perry.
“In a democracy, recognition matters. Everyone wants to be seen as who they are. If they are not, then it’s impossible for them to enjoy the experience of being full citizens.”
It just goes downhill from there. What is frightening is that this isn’t the insanity of the few, but the gospel truth being taught to impressionable college Freshman. Bold text is in the original. Since this is going to be a long one, just click below to go directly to a particular section.
- Age, Class, Size
- Ability/Disability Status
- Race, Ethnicity, Culture and Immigrant Status
- Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
- Women and Gender
- Guide Publication Information
Language as Leadership
Language has been described as complicated, intriguing and beautiful. Benjamin Lee Whorf said, “Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about.”* Some writers have commented on language as the biggest barrier to human progress because, as Edward de Bono said, “Language is an encyclopedia of ignorance. Old perceptions are frozen into language and force us to look at the world in an old-fashioned way.” All things considered, individuals are both beneficiaries and victims of whatever language traditions they are born into.
Doubleplusungood. Newspeak will make sure doubleplusgood perceptions are frozen into language instead!
Universities are places to look at the world in new ways. As a university organization, we care about the life of the mind. We offer this guide as a way to promote discussion and to facilitate creative and accurate expression.
Discussion? Ah!, so this “guide” won’t lay down the restrictions on what is and is not supposed to be spoken or offer a harangue rather than lay foundation for an open discussion? Whew! What a welcome change to the typical social justice warriors whose “discussions” are just ranting monologues.
An integral part of UNH’s mission is to continue to build an inclusive learning community, and the first step toward our goal is an awareness of any bias in our daily language.
Nice to know that people, who think that America is a great country, that Western civilization is wonderful, and that marriage is about the union of a man and a woman, will be able to have open and respectful discussions!
As we begin to understand bias, we explore the truths of hierarchy and oppression.
So much for bias and assumption! If you haven’t guessed already, this “guide” is coming from the perspective of a social justice warrior who sees the world in terms of morally impure oppressors (e.g. straight, White, “cis”, male, ableist, &c.) vs. morally pure victims (e.g. queer, persons of color, “trans”, female, disabled, &c.). “Inclusion” and “tolerance” will be touted when it comes to demanding that you think the way they want you to think, while they are being exclusive and intolerant of you.
When we free ourselves of bias, we are thus affirming identities that differ from our own. When we do not affirm another person’s identity, we are characterizing an individual as “less than” or “other”. This makes them invisible, and for some, it feels like a form of violence.
Bias and affirming other people are different things. The only bias here is a bias towards ones own opinions, and of objective reality. Refusing to validate someone else view of who they are is not validating oppression, nor is it a “form of violence.” Surrendering your thoughts to opinions of others is what transforms you “less than” or the “other”; Your opinion of your own identity can and will be trampled upon if they are not approved of. Funny how “inclusive” discussions require that you accept their screwy definitions that effectively pre-determine the pre-determined consensus? But hey, if you want to get a pre-determined synthesis, you have to not only offer a pre-determined antithesis, but also define the thesis in such a way that the antithesis will yield the correct synthesis.
This guide is meant to invite inclusive excellence in our campus community. Each step of inclusion moves us closer to a full democracy. The text was prepared for faculty, staff and students of the UNH community to encourage the full range of contributions that we offer as individuals and members of various groups. The guide presents practical revisions in our common usage that can make a difference and break barriers relating to diversity.
In other words, they strive for totalitarianism. This view of democracy is anything but democratic. It is “the purest form of democracy if the nation be considered as it should be from the point of view of quality rather than quantity, as an idea, the mightiest because the most ethical, the most coherent, the truest, expressing itself in a people as the conscience and will of the few, if not, indeed, of one, and ending to express itself in the conscience and the will of the mass… advancing, as one conscience and one will, along the self same line of development.” In effect, an “organized, centralized, authoritarian democracy.”
Diversity is a civic value at UNH. We are committed to supporting and sustaining an educational community that is inclusive, diverse and equitable. The values of diversity, inclusion and equity are inextricably linked to our mission of teaching and research excellence, and we embrace these values as being critical to development, learning and success. The Faculty Senate’s Statement on Diversity emphasizes, “We expect nothing less than an accessible, multicultural community in which civility and respect are fostered, and discrimination and harassment are not tolerated.”
“Inclusive, diverse, and equitable” sure sound all spiffy, but… Is this inclusively mean they are accepting of others with differing beliefs, or simply that they want everyone included in re-education camps? Is this diversity mean that they will tolerate diverse views they disagree with, or just those who fit their ideology? Does this equity mean that each individual will have equal access to educational resources on campus, or that opportunities will be distributed unequally to achieve a superficial equality of outcome?
Starting a Conversation about Word Choice
The following bias-free language guide is meant to serve as a starting point about terms related to age, race, class, ethnicity, nationality, gender, ability, sexual orientation and more. It is not meant to represent absolute requirements of language use but, rather, offer a way to encourage us to think critically and reflectively about the terms and phrases that many people use regularly in conversation and writing.
“Think as I think” said a man, “or you are abominably wicked; you are a toad.”
Our hope is to encourage thoughtful expression in terms that are sensitive to the diverse identities and experiences in our community. Language is an incredibly complex phenomenon that often reflects and affects our identities. There is wide diversity among us in usage and understanding of language based on our age, place of origin, culture and class, among other identities. This guide is not a means to censor but rather to create dialogues of inclusion where all of us feel comfortable and welcomed.
Except for those evil oppressors and H8rz, right? You can’t have diversity if people are allowed to think “undiverse” thoughts…
We invite your feedback, including suggestions, edits and additions. Thanks for reading and thanks for careful consideration when you speak.
Unless you are one of those evil oppressors…
What is “Inclusive Language”?
Inclusive Language is communication that does not stereotype or demean people based on personal characteristics including gender, gender expression, race, ethnicity, economic background, ability/disability status, religion, sexual orientation, etc.
Sounds all warm and fuzzy, but these social justice warriors are all about denigrating people into various classifications that must be talked about in an approved wording and tone. It’s their nature.
Identities Matter and Words Matter
Identities are personal. It is important to realize that each person will define their own identity. Identity terms are meant for individuals to use to identify themselves and not for us to identify them. You will find various definitions depending on culture, places of origin, generation, etc.
One can identify as of being a certain religious faith, being a fan of some musical group or TV show, or as having a certain political view, amongst other things. However, there is a little thing called objective reality. Some identifying characteristics are just that: identifying.
When appropriate, ask how a person wishes to be identified, and please remember that identity terms are meant for individuals to use to identify themselves and not for us to identify them. Use inclusive language to emphasize or focus the reader’s attention on similarities, equality and respect. Conversely, avoid using language that detracts from the sense of value of the whole person and avoid terms that exclude, marginalize, diminish or lower the status of any individual or group (e.g., “us and them” constructions). If you don’t know what to say, just ask the individual how they prefer to be identified.
It is one thing to treat someone as an individual. It is another to demand other people “respect” you forcing your “identity” over others by demanding that they not only say, but in their hearts feel, that 2 + 2 = 5.
In addition, avoid stereotypes and words that are derived from negative assumptions e.g., using the expression “going Dutch” for “splitting the bill”.
Diversity, Inclusion and Equity: Core Principles
From: “Making Excellence Inclusive”, American Association of Colleges and Universities. http://www.aacu.org/compass/inclusive_excellence.cfm
Diversity: Individual differences (e.g., personality, learning styles, and life experiences) and group/social differences (e.g., race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, physical or cognitive abilities, as well as cultural, political, religious, or other affiliations) that can be engaged in the service of learning.
Um, no. Diversity just means variations and differences. Funny how those who screech “diversity” the loudest always demand an “intellectual monoculture dedicated above all to identity politics.” Diversity, to them, simply means less (or none) of the oppressor groups (White, male, &c.). You see they are defined as the opposite of diverse, so less of that there is, then by definition the more “diversity” you have.
Inclusion: The active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity—in people, in the curriculum, in the co-curriculum and in communities (intellectual, social, cultural, geographical). This engagement with diversity has the potential to increase one’s awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication, and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions.
Nothing wrong with learning from, and about, other peoples, cultures, viewpoints, &c. But this “inclusion” is just an excuse to marginalize groups and beliefs that are definitionally oppressive, and thus as with diversity, increase “inclusion” by increasingly fanatical exclusion.
Equity: Creating opportunities for equal access and success for historically underrepresented populations such as racial and ethnic minority and low-income students, in three main areas:
• Representational equity, the proportional participation at all levels of an institution;
In other words, discrimination against some individuals whose identity is not left up to them, in order to create a preferred distribution of certain characteristics. So much for treating individuals as a whole person rather than just reduce them to their sex, “gender”, sexuality, race, &c.
• Resource equity, the distribution of educational resources in order to close equity gaps; and
Because the only way you can help one person is by tearing another person down???
• Equity-mindedness, the demonstration of an awareness of and willingness to address equity issues among institutional leaders and staff
Not exactly being inclusive of diverse points of view, eh?
Inclusive Excellence: refers to the achievement of institutional excellence through a sustained intentional, dynamic, and interactive engagement across a fully diverse campus in all phases of univesity life (curricular, co-curricular, research, and outreach).
There’s that totalitarianism again…
Only with an equitable inclusion of diverse peoples, perspectives, and pedagogies can optimal teaching, inquiry, artistic development, and learning occur.
Marginalizing others while whining about how their marginalization is evil.
Intercultural Competence: knowledge of others, knowledge of self, skills to interpret and relate, skills to discover and/or to interact, valuing others values, beliefs, and behaviors, and relativizing one’s self. Also involves the development of one’s skills and attitudes in successfully interacting with persons of diverse backgrounds.
Indoctrination into an intolerant ideology has never sounded socially just.
A micro-aggression is a subtle, often automatic, stereotypical, and insensitive behavior or comment or assumption about a person’s identity, background, ethnicity, or disability. Micro-aggressions may be intentional or non-intentional. They may be experienced daily by some people. The messages may be delivered in verbal, behavioral, and environmental forms (residing in the “climate” of an institution or in the broader society).
Ah, þe olde microaggressions, where everything is assumed to be tool of oppression so ingrained into society that no one even realized they are being evil oppressors!
For example, when women in the workplace enter a conference room where portraits of past CEOs or boards of directors are honorifically displayed, and they are all men. The implicit message is that women are less competent and/or that women may not be selected for leadership in that organization.
No, that is not the implicit message. It’s a statistical fact that most CEOs of major companies have been men. This is just a reflection of reality. It does not objectively indicate all women are incompetent or that women will be discriminated against. It can not be an aggression if no one is actually aggressing against you.
Mico-aggressions are delivered in many forms – politely or negatively. “I don’t think your daughter is capable of doing that because of her disability”, a school principal may say to a parent in front of the student – ignoring her presence completely.
Maybe the kid isn’t capable, and the school principal is just being thoughtful of the disabled student’s feelings? Even being nice is now a form of aggressive oppression. But then, if it is coming from someone who is an oppressor, anything they say or do is definitionally oppression.
Forms of Aggression
Micro-assault, verbal attack
Example: “Why do you need a wheelchair? I saw you walk… You can walk, right?” to a person who is using a mobile chair for long-distance travel.
Example: “Dogs smell funny” to a blind person using a guide dog.
The first example is either a person being a jerk. In the second example… maybe, juuust maybe, dogs smell like… dogs.
Micro-insult, a form of verbal or silent demeaning through insensitive comments or behavior
Example: A person exhibits a stubborn, begrudging attitude, that they will accommodate an accessibility request. The verbalization is appropriate but the tone seems insulting.
Or maybe the person is just a lazy s**t?
Micro-invalidation, degrading a person’s wholeness through making false assumptions about the other’s ability, causing a sense of invalidation.
Example: “You have a learning disability? How can you be a lawyer?” to a person with a learning disability.
Example: “The new international student is having language challenges.” (More appropriately, we would say that the new international student is concentrating on learning a new language.)
Getting a law degree and passing the bar do require a lot of learning and ability, and can be easily derailed by an learning disabilities. The tone, though, is not oppressive, just someone being a jerk. And yes, someone trying to grasp the nuances of a language they are is indeed challenging for most people.
Micro-aggressions hold a lot of power and especially because of their frequency in our culture. They may appear subtle and harmless, but we must address them if we wish to consider ourselves a truly civil society.
The only thing that need to be addressed is teaching people to not be jerks. That was once considered normal to act like a civilized human beings… until the social justice warriors reared their heads.
The opposite phenomenon is what Mary Rowe of MIT termed micro-affirmations. These are subtle or small acknowledgements of a person’s value and accomplishments such as public praise of a person’s work or character, or they may be acts of kindness like opening the door for someone.
Wait, I thought that opening a door for someone was sexist, ageist, and ableist?
The apparently “small” affirmation of appropriately identifying someone’s gender, for instance, in a social exchange, through correct language will build colleague-ships and caring relationships. All of these so-called small gestures create a healthy, more productive classroom culture or work environment.
Treating a person like a human being and an individual does nor require rejection of objective reality and affirmation of someone else’s contra-normative chosen “gender.” Recognizing objective reality has become a form of oppression to those who reject it. You can not have a respectful and open discussion as equals when one person has to substitute their own thoughts for the opinions of another. And always, some people’s thoughts are worthy of affirmation, while other’s thoughts are unworthy to exist.
The following is a list of terms that arise when age, class and size are discussed. Keep in mind that identities are personal; individuals will define their own identity.
So a forty year old man can identify as a twelve year old girl, and demand to hit a middle school’s girl’s locker room?
Glossary of Language
Preferred: people of advanced age, old people*
Problematic/Outdated: older people, elders, seniors, senior citizen
*Old people has been reclaimed by some older activists who believe the standard wording of old people lacks the stigma of the term “advanced age”. Old people also halts the euphemizing of age. Euphemizing automatically positions age as a negative.
Being called and elder or a senior is oppressive now? Saying someone is “of advanced age” is less a “euphemism” than saying “older”? “Elder,” “senior,” and “older” are indicative of “advanced age”.
Preferred: person who lacks advantages that others have, low economic status related to a person’s education, occupation and income
Problematic: poor person, person from the ghetto
Note: Some people choose to live a life that is not connected to the consumer world of material possessions. They do not identify as “poor”.
Preferred: person living at or below the poverty line, people experiencing poverty
Problematic/Outdated: poor person, poverty-stricken person
Preferred: person-experiencing homelessness
Problematic/Outdated: the homeless, which reduces the person to being defined by their housing rather than as a person first – one who does not have a home
Preferred: person-using welfare
Problematic/Outdated: “welfare queen”
Preferred: person of material wealth
Being rich gets conflated with a sort of omnipotence; hence, immunity from customs and the law. People without material wealth could be wealthy or rich of spirit, kindness, etc.
“Poor” is a clear indication of being in poverty, and generally understood as being financially lacking. “Poverty” is definable by an objective definition; it is not an “identity” that one can just “choose” out of thin air. A “homeless” person is homeless; this is a perfectly accurate and descriptive term. Similarly, a person who is rich has a lot of money. The context of wealth or the lack thereof is clear.
Preferred: people of size
Problematic/Outdated: obese*, overweight people
“Obese” is the medicalization of size, and “overweight” is arbitrary; for example, standards differ from one culture to another.
Note: “Fat”, a historically derogatory term, is increasingly being reclaimed by people of size and their allies, yet for some, it is a term that comes from pain.
A little mood music:
Use person-first constructions that put the person ahead of the disability, e.g., instead of “a blind woman” or “a diabetic”, use “a woman who is blind” or “a person with diabetes”.
Just as it is not always necessary to convey the color of a person’s hair, for example, do not mention that a person has a disability unless it is relevant to the communication.
They mean the same thing. Putting the adjective before the noun flows more naturally. It is also generally descriptive. It does not diminish a person, but simply describes them.
Avoid using language that casts disabilities as negative. For example, steer away from using phrases such as; suffers from, afflicted with or victim of, as such expressions cast disabilities as negative attributes. By the same token, avoid using the terms; handicapped, challenged and crippled. Nick Holtzhum, former UNH student said, “Being disabled just gives you different means to do the same things that others do.”
Disabilities are a negative. You aren’t given “different means” to do what other people do. “Disabled” by definition means you don’t have that ability. What this guide does is conflate the disability with the disabled person.
Watch the Metaphors
“Bipolar,” “autistic,” “schizo,” and “ADD” are words that should not be thrown around in conversation. These words are descriptors of real psychiatric disabilities that people actually possess. They are not metaphors for everyday behaviors that happen to bug us. When used to describe people you hate, you imply that the disabilities themselves are something to be hated.
Note: Most disabilities are not diseases. Do not refer to a person with a disability as a patient unless that person is in a hospital or care facility. In the context of occupational or physical therapy, the term client is preferable.
On one hand they are “real psychiatric disabilities”, but on the other they are part of a person’s chosen identity…
Although the majority of disability advocacy groups and members of the disability community generally accept the term “disability,” there are some who believe that even the term “disability” itself is pejorative. Some people may often prefer to use terms such as “differently abled” and/or may characterize a disability as simply a difference rather than any sort of impediment, for example, members of Deaf Culture. Again, it is advisable to ask people how they would they like to be addressed whenever it is relevant to the situation. Remember, most of us will possibly face being disabled at some point in our lives; whether it comes sooner or later depends on our circumstances.
Nope. “Disabled” is a perfectly good and descriptive word.
Glossary of Language
Focus: It’s important to remember that we come from diverse backgrounds and experiences that foster our full identities. We are not just what appears on the surface to be our singular or perceived dominant identity.
Preferred: “non-disabled” is the preferred term for people without disabilities.problematic: normal, able-bodied, healthy or whole
Wait, wasn’t “disabled” not supposed to be used at all?
Preferred: person who is blind/visually impaired
Problematic: blind person, “dumb”
Preferred: person who is deaf or hard-of-hearing
Problematic: deaf person, Deaf-and-Dumb, Deaf-Mute
Preferred: person with a speech/communication impairment
Problematic: dumb, speech impediment
But can he play pinball?
Preferred: person who is learning disabled, person who has a cognitive disability, person with a learning or cognitive disability, personswith intellectual and developmental disability
Problematic: retarded, slow, brain-damaged, special education student
Preferred: person with a psychiatric disability; person with a mental health condition
Problematic: mentally ill, hyper-sensitive, psycho, crazy, insane, wacko, nuts
Preferred: wheelchair user, person who is – wheelchair mobile, physically disabled, quadriplegic, paraplegic
Problematic: handicapped, physically challenged, invalid, “special”, deformed, cripple, gimp, spaz, wheelchair-bound, confined to a wheelchair, lame
Again, sometimes people are just jerks. Sometimes someone who is “brain-damaged” actually is brain damaged. And yes, a calling someone who is “psycho” is pretty descriptive.
Preferred: seeking help for emotional mental health, person who identifies as having an emotional disability
Problematic: emotionally disturbed
The guide in this very section stated that these were “real psychiatric disabilities”, but now says they are “identities”? It would seem that it is whatever it needs to be…
Preferred: cognitively/developmentally delayed/disabled, person with a cognitive/developmental delay or disability, person with an intellectual disability
Problematic: retard, mentally retarded, special ed student
Preferred: someone of short stature, little person
Problematic: dwarf, midget
Special Education is education that is specially tailored for the handicapped, not a form of oppression. Gimli son of Gloin might disagree with “dwarf” being a derogatory term.
Preferred: person “living with” a specific disability, (i.e. “someone living with cancer or AIDS”)
Problematic: victim, someone “stricken with” a disability (i.e. “someone stricken with cancer” or “an AIDS victim”)
“Afflicted with”, “stricken with”, “suffers from”, “victim of”, and “confined to” are terms that are based on the assumption that a person with a disability is suffering or living a reduced quality of life. Instead, use neutral language when describing a person who has a disability. Not every person with a disability ‘suffers,’ is a ‘victim’ or is ‘stricken.’ Instead simply state the facts about the nature of the person’s disability, preferably in the way that they have told you they want to be identified.
Because having AIDS and cancer have such spiffy and wonderful lives and don’t suffer at all.
The following is a list of terms that arise when referring to race, ethnicity and culture.
Glossary of Language
Preferred: Black or African American
Problematic: negro, negroid, colored person, dark
Damn those White supremacists at the United Negro College Fund and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Poeple!
Preferred: U.S. citizen or Resident of the U.S.
Note: North Americans often use “American” which usually, depending on the context, fails to recognize South America
Preferred: North American or South American
Problematic: American: assumes the U.S. is the only country inside these two continents.
Americans are called Americans because they are citizens of the United States of America, and “American” describes them as a people in a way that being designated a citizen of a government or a resident of some territorial expanse.
Preferred: People of Color
Problematic: Colored, Non-White
Note: In the U.S. context, “People of Color” usually refers to Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American, Latino/a, Hispanic, African American and biracial/multiracial people and should not be used synonymously with “Black” or “African American.”
Because “Non-White” otherizes people who are not White, while “People of Color” otherizes people of… pallor?
Preferred: use the specific name of the country on the continent; Africa; e.g., Egypt, Ethiopia
Problematic: Africa, which is a continent of many countries
Note: “African” is a broad term. Even though we know Africa as one of the seven continents, citizens prefer to identify with their country of origin, such as Ethiopian or Nigerian.
Because no one has ever referred to Europeans as Europeans…
Preferred: Western Asian, Northern African people
Note: The people of these regions of the world identify according to their genealogical, linguistic, or cultural backgrounds. When applicable, tribal affiliations and intra-tribal relationships play an important role in their identity.
I’m pretty sure Arab is a perfectly good description of a people with similar lineage and language…
Preferred: White people, European-American individuals
Problematic: Caucasian people
How is “Caucasian” problematic? Not all White people identify as European.
Preferred: international people
People are called “foreigners” because they are in a foreign land.
Preferred: Undocumented* immigrant or worker; person seeking asylum, refugee
Problematic: illegal alien
*Although preferable to illegal (when we call a person illegal, we imply that they are an object), this term lacks recognition of the person’s humanity first.
The term “illegal alien” is perfectly descriptive. They are aliens who are illegally present in the country. Not everyone who is an illegal alien is an “immigrant or worker”, and people seeking asylum or asking for refugee status are at least trying to enter a country legally.
Preferred: bi-racial people, multi-racial individuals when it is relevant to state this in a communication
Problematic: mixed race people, mulatto
Zombie Kurt Cobain hardest hit…
Preferred: Asian people, Asian American individuals
Note: Certain food may be labeled Oriental, and carpets may be “Oriental”, but not people’s identities. The suffix “American” signifies that the person was born in or spent formative years in North America.
Most Uruguayans aren’t of East Asian decent…
Preferred: Latino people or Latino/a people,
Problematic: Spanish People (only appropriate for people from Spain; and, therefore, imprecise when referring to people from Latin, Central or South America)
Who ever used the term “Spanish People”? Hispanic is descriptive, with language and linguistic ties. Latino is a term that may or may not encompass Brazil and/or Portugal.
Preferred: Native Americans or indigenous people or First Nation people (Often referring to native Canadians)
Problematic: Indians (when referring to indigenous American people unless the person indicates that they preferred to be identified as Indian).
There was no common term for all the pre-Columbian peoples in the Americas, until “Indian”. The term “Native American” confuses native in geographic terms with native of a people or culture. “Indigenous” also ignores that fact that migration, conquest, and other displacement — as well as conquest and slaughter — were not unknown in pre-Columbian times.
Multiracial: A term designating persons of interracial parentage or heritage. This terms was added to the Census 2000 and has allowed interracial persons to select a more appropriate category that didn’t force them to choose between parts of their heritage. People consider themselves biracial when their heritage consists of two races.
Ethnicity: A group identity assigned to specific groups of people who share a common linguistic, religious and/or cultural heritage. Ethnicity is not synonymous with “race”.
Wait, can’t that be a “social construct”? Because language, religion, and culture are not exactly immutable characteristics.
Race: A group identity historically related to a local geographic or global human population traditionally distinguished as a group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics. Race is believed to be a social construct, without biological merit that was designed to maintain slavery.
How can it be a “social construct” when it’s just been defined by objective immutable characteristics? Pro-tip: Slavery existed within racial groups since time immemorial.
You will find various definitions of sexual orientation among people of varying cultures, places of origin, generations, etc.
Gender Pronoun Guide
Some people may not feel comfortable using traditional gender pronouns (she/her, he/him) to fit their gender identities. Transgender, genderqueer, and gender-variant people may choose different pronouns for themselves. The attached guide is a starting point for using pronouns respectfully.
Or we could just use English gender pronouns according to English grammar.
Glossary of Language
Preferred: Sexual Orientation, Sexual Identity
Problematic: Sexual Preference
The scientifically accurate term for an individual’s enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to members of the same and/or other sex, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual (straight) orientations. Avoid the offensive term “sexual preference”, which is used to suggest that being gay or lesbian is voluntary and therefore “curable.”
Funny how everything about a persons biological sex is a “social construct” except sexual attraction, in which case it must always be immutable to the point where it is the only immutable characteristics of human beings? But acknowledging that for at least some people, there are preferences regarding sexuality or that a persons sexuality can be shaped? But to even entertain such a possibility would contradict the proffered truth that must not be questioned.
Preferred: Gay, Lesbian, Same Gender Loving (SGL)
“Homosexual” is an outdated clinical term considered derogatory and offensive by many gay and lesbian people. Gay and/or lesbian accurately describe those who are attracted to people of the same sex or gender. Same Gender Loving is sometimes used among African American sexual minority individuals.
So, “heterosexual” is acceptable while “homosexual” isn’t? Yup, this guide is all about discussing things on neutral and equal ground…
Preferred: Sexual Minorities, Queer, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ)
Problematic: People of an alternative “lifestyle” (when referring to sexuality)
“Lifestyle” is an inaccurate term used by anti-gay extremists to denigrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lives. As there is not one straight lifestyle, there is not one lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender lifestyle. Queer, historically a derogatory term, has been reclaimed by many sexual minorities and their allies. Queer is often used as an umbrella term to describe lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgender, and questioning (of sexuality and/or gender identity).
The “lifestyle” refers to individuals who choose a certain lifestyle. It is about chosen action and activity. It is almost as if the guide is hell bent on conflating who a person is and what a person does.
Preferred: People with intersex characteristics, individuals with ambiguous sexual organs
Intersex can be used when describing a person whose biological sex is ambiguous. There are many genetic, hormonal or anatomical variations that make a person’s sexual organs ambiguous (e.g., Klinefelter Syndrome). Parents and medical professionals usually assign intersex infants a sex and perform surgical procedures to conform the infant’s body to the chosen assignment.
Note: the intersex community speaks out against non-consensual, premature and unsound practices. The term intersex is not interchangeable with or a synonym for transgender.
There are individuals who have medical conditions (e.g. XXY or X0 chromosomes). These do not invalidate the fact that we are a dimorphic species with male and female sexes. It is a rather obsessive manichean world view where the presence of anyone without a strict XX or XY is considered proof that biological sex is just a social construct.
Preferred: Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS), Gender Reaffirming Surgery, Gender Confirming Surgery
Problematic/Outdated: Sex Change
Refers to surgical alteration, and is only one small part of transition (see transition directly above on intersex characteristics). Not all transgender people choose to, or can afford to have Sexual Reassignment Surgery. Journalists and researchers should avoid overemphasizing the role of SRS in the transition process.
Actually, it’s all wrong. One can not change sexes. They can only have superficial cosmetic surgery to become an imitation.
Glossary of Terms
The fear, hatred and/or dislike of people who are or are perceived to be bisexual.
Note: This includes prejudice, discrimination, harassment and acts of violence. It can often manifest as discrediting or doubting the existence of bisexuality.
Disliking the chosen sexual activity of others is not a “phobia”. Many of the mores, customs, and folkways regarding sexuality exist, and that “maybe, just maybe social traditions aren’t just arbitrary rules set down by the elite – but are solutions to common human problems that have been worked out over millennia”. American society has been capable of true tolerance in large part because its fundamentals were so strong. Destroy those fundamentals, and the tolerance no longer because workable.
A range of different identities wherein a person is comfortable identifying with the sex or gender they were assigned at birth.
A pervasive and institutionalized system that places transgender people in the “other” category and treats their needs and identities as less important than those of cisgender people.
Note: This includes the lack of gender-neutral restrooms, locker rooms, and residences.
The vast majority of the people think they are what they actually are: Most men are men who know they are men; most women are women who know they are women. That is normal because it is normal for human beings.
Coming out (of the closet)
The process of being open about one’s own sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This may include telling friends, family, loved ones, co-workers, acquaintances, etc.
Note: This may be a difficult process; a person should not be forced to come out to anyone for any reason. Each individual should be respected to choose who they come out to and when. Acceptance and support help people at this time.
Refers to all external characteristics and behaviors that are socially defined as either masculine or feminine, e.g., dress, mannerisms, speech patterns and social interactions.
A person’s internal definition of self as man, woman, or transgendered. One’s gender identity may or may not be conguent with one’s biological sex or traits typically associated with one’s biological sex. Not to be confused with sexual orientation, which determines one’s primary attraction to another gender.
They try to say that gender and biological sex are different things, but confuse sexual orientation with attraction to a gender.
The presumption that heterosexuality is universal and/or superior to other sexual orientations
Example of perpetuation of hetero-normativity – seeing a ring on a woman’s finger and saying “congratulations, what’s his name?”
This illustrates the assumption that the woman is heterosexual or that she is in a relationship with a person of male gender.
Note: Even though it may seem this way in some relationships where one person is more masculine and/or feminine than the other, the idea of someone being “the man” and the other being “the woman” is a reflection of a hetero-normative society.
Prejudice, bias, or discriminations based on the presumption that heterosexuality is universal and/or superior to other sexual orientations.
Reproduction is the most basic biological urge besides self-survival. Being a dimorphic species that reproduces sexually, it is normal for a species sex drive to be geared towards reproduction. This is normal and necessary for the survival of the species.
The fear, hatred and/or dislike of people who are attracted – or are perceived to be attracted to a person of the same sex or gender.
Note: Homophobia may result in acts of prejudice, discrimination, harassment and violence. It is possible for someone who is attracted to people of the same gender to be homophobic. This is called “internalized homophobia”, which means having negative feelings toward oneself because we live in a homophobic society – or something like that.
To Be Out
To be open about your sexual orientation and/or your gender identity
Note: A person may be out only in a particular area of their life, for example, they may only be out to friends, but not to family or vice versa. It can never be assumed that someone is out to everyone.
To reveal an individual’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity, “to out someone”, is a violation of an individual’s right to self-identify and may result in life-threatening consequences. Each person chooses when and with whom they want to share their identity.
See “biphobia” above.
A person’s innate, enduring physical, emotional and/or spiritual attraction toward others
Note: This attraction is typically, but not always, specific to a particular gender (or to multiple genders). For example, some people are attracted only to men or women; other people are attracted to both men and women, and some others’ attractions transcend gender (e.g., they are attracted to specific traits or characteristics, regardless of their gender).
Sexual behavior is an action that a person chooses, but that action does not necessarily define a person’s orientation as gay, straight, bisexual, pansexual or asexual.
The fear, hatred, and/or dislike of people who are/or are perceived to be outside of the socially constructed systems of sex and/or gender.
Note: Transphobia may result in acts of prejudice, discrimination, harassment and violence.
Apparently every difference between the sexes is a “social construct”… unless it is necessary to support the narrative.
The following commonly used terms are explained for the purpose of avoiding sexism and inaccuracies.
First, it is essential to discuss the concept of gender. Gender is a socially constructed system to classify traits, appearance and/or other things as masculine, male, feminine, and/or female. It is important to note that although masculinity is typically ascribed to biological males, and femininity is typically ascribed to biological females, those connections are socially constructed and, therefore, are not always accurate.
Gender Pronoun Guide
Some people may not feel comfortable using traditional gender pronouns (she/her, he/him) to fit their gender identities. Transgender, genderqueer, and gender-variant people may choose different pronouns for themselves. The attached guide is a starting point for using pronouns respectfully.
Aside from obvious physical differences, there are actual physiological differences. While there are variations, the differences between the sexes in many areas is statistically clear. It is biology, not a “social construct.”
Glossary of Language
Preferred: Folks, People, You All, Y’all
Problematic/Outdated: Guys (when referring to people overall)
Problematic/Outdated: Girls (when referring to adult women)
What about referring to “they boys”? And isn’t “Y’all” considered racist or something?
Preferred: Workforce, personnel, workers
Preferred: Human achievements
Problematic/Outdated: man’s achievements
Preferred: The average person, people in general
Problematic/Outdated: the average man
Preferred: Chairperson, chair, moderator, discussion leader
Problematic/Outdated: chairman (the head of an academic department, meeting or organization)
Preferred: First-year students
Preferred: doctor, nurse, lawyer, professor, secretary
Specify gender only if relevant and/or necessary for discussion.
Avoid gender stereotyping: the secretary . . . she, the professor/supervisor . . . he
Preferred: supervisor, police officer, flight attendant, homemaker, postal worker/mail carrier
Problematic/Outdated: foreman, policeman, stewardess, housewife, mailman
A bit of an English lesson: “Man” originally was gender-neutral. There was “wyfman” which evolved into “woman” and “wife”, while the masculine “were” or “waepman” was lost, only to be retained in words like “werwolf”. As a gender neutral term “man” has a long history.
Preferred: The boys chose (specify), The students behaved in the following way (specify), He did the following (specify)
Problematic: The boys chose typically male toys. The student’s behavior was typically female. He acts like an old women
Being specific reduces the possibility of stereotypical bias.
Maybe because behavior differences are real, and there are “typical” traits?
Preferred: Thanks to the administrative assistants for their work on the project
Problematic: Thank the girls in the office for typing the reports
Preferred: Women’s movement, feminist, supporter of women’s rights
Problematic/Outdated: women’s lib, women’s libber
The term “feminist” is also a slur…
Preferred: Scientists/researchers/adminstrators are often separated from their spouses/partners when their research requires them to travel
Problematic: Scientists/researchers/adminstrators are often separated from their wives when their research . . . .
Cancer researchers like Tim Hunt hardest hit.
Preferred: parenting, nurturing (or specify exact behavior)
Problematic/Outdated: mothering, fathering Unless gender is specifically implied, avoid gendering a non-gendered activity
Maybe, juuust maybe, men and women raise children differently because men and women are different?
Preferred: Other Sex
Problematic/Outdated: Opposite Sex
Since there are only two sexes, the “other sex” is necessarily the “opposite sex”.
Preferred: Children who are gender non-conforming, Children who are gender variant
Problematic/Outdated: Girlie or Tomboy
Wait, so gender stereotypes are “bad” and a “social construct” but bandied about as fact when it is useful to define someone as being “different” and thus not a designated oppressor.
Preferred: Transgender Individual
Problematic/Outdated: Biological /Genetic/Natal/ “normal” gender
Preferred: Assigned Sex
Problematic/Outdated: Biological/Genetic/Natal/ “normal” sex
Preferred: Affirmed gender, Affirmed girl, Affirmed boy
Problematic/Outdated: “Real” Gender, “Real” Girl, “Real” Boy
For the vast majority of the people on Earth, it is normal.
Glossary of Terms
The act of assuming someone’s gender upon first impressions based usually on their appearance
Note: The gender attributed to a person does not always coincide with that person’s stated gender identity.
The way an individual expresses their gender through their clothing, attitude, hairstyle, etc.
Note: Many times homophobic attacks are actually attacks on an individual’s perceived gender expression and not necessarily their sexual orientation since it is not something you can actually see about a person.
One’s innate inner feeling of being a man, woman, both or neither.
Note: Gender identity may or may not be associated with one’s physical body.
It’s usually easy to tell the differences between men and women, because of a little thing known as biology. Otherwise, they’re…
Thank you to the many editors and proofreaders of this outreach to build a better campus climate at UNH.
Writers and editors: Sylvia Foster, Szu-Hui Lee, Joelle Ruby Ryan, Sean Moundas, Janice Pierson and the Women’s Commission members in the 1990’s who drafted the “Guide to Non-Sexist Language” to inspire conversations about accuracy and creativity in language.