A New Way of Speaking
Posted 17 January 2010on:
I have been doing lots of thinking over the last few days after coming home on Wednesday after a week of training in Texas. And I was going to start writing on some of my reflections today. But then I started engaging in conversation with some co-congregants of my church about the Ride and realized that not everybody has the same vocabulary that I have. Mainstream society understands what gay and lesbian mean, but what about the other letters in the acronym? It might be necessary to go over same basic terminology, or as we sometimes call it, the alphabet soup of the movement. So here we go as I stumble through my own limited knowledge. Also, language is always changing and it means different things to different people, so one definition may not jive with everybody that you come in contact with.
Queer — While this word has been used in a pejorative sense, one may hear it used as a general catch-all term for the LGBTQI… movement, or as a more general non-boxing identity by anybody that may or may not fit into one of the common categories, we sometimes hear of the gay rights movement or gay pride, I would prefer queer rights, etc. as an effort to include everybody, usage of this word may also be a generational issue as its pejorative sense is used less, younger queer-folk are more apt to use the word than our elders
Genderqueer — individual who possesses identity outside society’s gender/sexual binaries
Third-gender — a gender in addition to that of male and female, societies world-wide have accepted third-genders such as the hijras of India (I goofed, see nome’s comment)
Transgender — Simply put transgender means that a person’s birth assigned gender, or sex, does not match their personal gender identity/expression, those who operate outside of society’s norms
Cisgender — Cisgender-folk are the people of privilege in the gender identity/expression identity field
Ze — gender-neutral/third-gender/genderqueer third person singular pronoun, akin to s/he, “Ze went shopping at the food co-op yesterday.” I have been attempting to adopt these pronouns in reference to God.
Zir/Hir – gender-neutral/third-gender/genderqueer third person possessive pronoun akin to his/her, “Ze went to zir parents’ house for Thanksgiving dinner.”
Intersex — individuals whose biology/genitalia does not fit into the rigid categories of male or female
Pansexual — sexual orientation of those attracted to all genders/biological make-ups, differs from bisexuality in that it operates outside of the gender binary
Heterosexism — system that elevates heterosexuality above other sexual orientations
Cisgenderism — system that elevates cisgender identity above transgender/genderqueer identities
If you feel I haven’t done a term justice feel free to comment and correct. And never be afraid to ask about a term, what it means, or if is acceptable to use. Language is fluid and we must always learn new ways to speak of our experience in the world.