Perplexed about some of the new words related to gender and sexuality?

May 23, 2016

For many people, hearing or reading words like “cisgender” or “genderqueer” is puzzling. Lexicographers say it’s time for these and related terms to be included in dictionaries. These two articles from The Atlantic and The Washington Post explain why this is so, and their explanations can help us better understand how language changes and develops within the context of cultures.

Here’s a quotation from Emma Green’s article in The Atlantic about her conversation with Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster:

“Because gender and sexuality have been the subject of Supreme Court decisions and Amazon specials in the last several years, newspapers and magazines have been using gender-and-sexuality words more frequently. ‘That’s the gold standard of lexicography: If a word is likely to be encountered by an adult, it’s time for that word to go into the dictionary,’ Sokolowski said.”

Read the complete article, “Does Adding ‘Genderqueer’ to the Dictionary Make It ‘Real’?

And see also “Why Merriam-Webster added ‘cisgender,’ ‘ genderqueer,’ and ‘Mx’ to the dictionary

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni is an independent scholar, writer, and editor. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992).

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