Thursday, January 24, 2013

Are you a QUILTBAG?

Labels for different social groups are a shorthand way of defining people and we use a lot of them in our language. Recently, we've looked at terms like handicapped, the handicapped, disabled, people with disabilities and wheelchair users as part of our work on ENGA3 Language Change, but on the Johnson blog they take a look at some of the rapidly evolving acronyms and initialisms for groups defined by their sexuality.

So, we have LGB (Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual) and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual and Transgendered) but in the past the labels weren't quite so neutral. Gay has had a fascinating history as a word, and queer has been reclaimed to some extent, but read more of the piece in Johnson to see where we're going now and what a QUILTBAG is...

For a full set of LGBTQIA (and more) terms, have a look here. A term that's fairly new to me, but seems to have been knocking around for a while, is cisgender (explained, I think, here). The recent media firestorm about Julie Burchill's 'transphobic' article in the Observer (removed from the Observer site but reprinted here) brought this term to my attention and it's another example of how language and identity are closely linked, and the ways in which language can be used to hurt others.

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