Health and Wellbeing
Gender inclusive language
As a student in London, you encounter people from diverse backgrounds on a daily basis, including those who identify as transgender or non-binary. It is important to use language that is inclusive and respectful of all individuals, regardless of their gender identity. A gender-inclusive language is an essential tool for creating an environment that is welcoming and inclusive for all students, and it is a key aspect of promoting diversity and inclusion.
Gender-inclusive language does not assume or imply a specific gender identity. For example, instead of using gendered terms like "he" or "she," you can use gender-neutral terms like "they" or "them." If you are referring to someone whose gender identity may not be immediately apparent to you, it's always good to ask about their pronouns. If the question is dictated by your positive intentions, it is no different to asking them about their name. Watch the video below to find out more.
Using gender-inclusive language is more than just using the right pronouns, however. It is about recognising that gender is not binary and acknowledging the experiences of individuals who do not conform to traditional gender norms. It is about using language that is inclusive of all individuals, regardless of their gender identity.
One of the key benefits of using gender-inclusive language is that it helps to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment. It demonstrates respect and inclusivity for all individuals, regardless of their gender identity, and it can help to foster a sense of belonging for those who may feel marginalised or excluded. It can also help to break down gender stereotypes and promote gender equality.
- Trans: This was the term most commonly used by participants to describe their status, identity or experience. 'Trans' quite literally means to go beyond or across, and its use in this context originates from the words 'transgender' and 'transsexual' - to traverse gender and/or sex. 'Trans' generally functions as an umbrella term to describe the experience/status of being a different gender from the gender assigned at birth.
- Trans woman is an identity term used by some women who were assigned male at birth. Some people also use MtF (male-to-female) to describe their experience/identity. Likewise, some people use the term trans feminine to describe their experience/identity of being a trans person who was assigned male at birth but does not solely identify as a woman.
- Trans man is an identity term used by some men who were assigned female at birth. Some people also use FtM (female-to-male) to describe their experience. Likewise, some people use the term trans masculine to describe their experience/identity of being a trans person who was assigned female at birth but does not solely identify as a man.
- Non-Binary: Describes identities that do not fit into the man/woman binary. Other terms include genderqueer and genderfluid.
- Transgender: Similarly to 'trans', transgender also describes the experience/status of being a different gender from the gender assigned at birth. Increasingly, the short-form term - 'trans' - seems to be preferred and used most widely.
- Transsexual: This term is sometimes used by people who change, or intend to change, aspects of their bodily sex. Whilst 'transsexual' has somewhat fallen out of popular usage in the UK, this term is still an important means for many people to articulate their experience. 'Transsexual' is not a derogatory term when used as self-identification, yet the term is not necessarily favoured or used by everyone.
- Person of trans experience is sometimes used by people to denote that they have or have had a trans/transgender/transsexual experience, but this is not central to their identity. Similarly, person with a trans history is sometimes used by people who have had a trans/transgender/transsexual experience, and regard this as just another factor of their history, life and experience.
- Agender and no gender are terms used by some people to describe feeling outside of or without gender.
So, how can you use gender-inclusive language in your day-to-day interactions at university? Here are some examples:
Use gender-neutral pronouns like "they" or "them" instead of assuming someone's gender. There are a lot of misconceptions about using "they" as a singular pronoun, but this idea is not as modern as you may think... The video below will give you a quick, interesting historical overview of the usage of personal pronouns.
Instead of using terms like "ladies" or "gentlemen," use gender-neutral terms like "everyone."
Use inclusive language in your writing, such as using "they" instead of "he or she."
When addressing a group, use inclusive language like "Hey, everybody" instead of "Hey, guys."
By using gender-inclusive language, you can help to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment around you. It is important to remember that language is powerful, and the words we use can have a significant impact on those around us.
By using inclusive language, you can help to promote diversity, inclusion, and equality for all individuals, regardless of their gender identity.
And if you'd like some practice, have a look at this website that will list some of the pronouns and how to use them in different contexts.
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