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Friday, April 22, 2016

Style manual updates of terms about sexual orientation and gender identity

I recently updated gay, lesbian, sexual orientation, transgender and related terms in Garbl's Editorial Style and Usage Manual. I reviewed preferences of the Associated Press, New York Times, and GLAAD for using these terms.

cross-dresser Include hyphen. Use this term instead of transvestite to describe someone who sometimes dresses in clothing associated with the opposite sex. Cross-dressing does not necessarily indicate that someone is gay or transgender. See gay, lesbiantransgender.

gay, lesbian Identify a person's sexual orientation only when it is relevant. Do not refer to "sexual preference" or to a gay, homosexual or alternative "lifestyle." Use gay (adj.) to describe men and women attracted to the same sex, though women commonly prefer lesbian (adj, n.). Ask, if you can! Lesbian women is redundant. When the distinction is useful, consider using lesbians and gay men.

Avoid using the outdated homosexualexcept in clinical contexts or references to sexual activity. Lowercase gay and lesbian except in names of organizations. Don't refer to gays with disparaging, offensive terms. Use gay and queer carefully in other contexts. Do not use gay as offensive, incorrect adolescent slang meaning "stupid." See LGBT; sex, sexism; sexual orientation.

gay rights Advocates for gay issues prefer equal rights or civil rights for gay people. Though commonly used, gay rights inaccurately implies "special rights" that are denied other citizens.

gender Gender has become an acceptable term for writing about differences between males and females, especially their social, psychological and cultural traits--or who we are. Sex is more often used when writing about physical and biological traits--or what we do. Stay tuned. See sex, sexism.

homosexual Outdated clinical term considered derogatory and offensive by many lesbians and gay men. See gay, lesbiansex, sexismsexual orientation.

husband, wife Regardless of sexual orientation, husband or wife is acceptable in all references to individuals in any legally recognized marriage. Or use spouse or partner if requested by individuals in the marriage. See sexual orientation.

LGBT Sometimes GLBT. Acceptable on first reference for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. But spell it out elsewhere in the document. See gay, lesbiansexual orientationtransgender.

same-sex marriage, gay marriage Both terms are acceptable, though the former clearly covers both lesbians and gay men. See husband, wife;sexual orientation.

sex, sexism Base communication on relevant qualities of men and women, not on their sex or sexual orientation. See gay, lesbiangendersexual orientation. ...

sexual orientation The scientifically accurate term for an individual's enduring physical, romantic or emotional attraction to members of the same or opposite sex. Don't use sexual preference, which implies that sexuality is a matter of choice. Cite a person's sexual orientation only when it is relevant. See gay, lesbianhusband, wifesame-sex marriage.

transgender (adj.) Use the names and pronouns (he, his, she, her, hers) preferred by transgender people whose physical characteristics or gender identity as male or female differ from their sex at birth. If that preference is not known, use the pronouns consistent with the way the individual lives publicly. Identify a person as a transgender man or transgender woman only when it is relevant. See transsexual.

transsexual (adj.) An older term preferred by some people who change their gender through medical procedures. Transgender is generally preferable. Ask when possible! See transgender.

Monday, April 18, 2016

All the Euphemisms We Use for ‘War’ | The Nation

William J. Astore writes in this excellent article from The Nation:
"The more American leaders and officials—and the media that quotes them endlessly—employ such euphemisms to cloak harsh realities, the more they ensure that such harshness will endure; indeed, that it is likely to grow harsher and more pernicious as we continue to settle into a world of euphemistic thinking. ...
"Don’t think, however, that the language of 21st-century American war was only meant to lull the public. Less familiar words and terms continue to be used within the military not to clarify tasks at hand but to obscure certain obvious realities even from those sanctioned to deal with them. ...
"For any future historian of the Pentagon’s language, let me sum things up this way: Instead of honest talk about war in all its ugliness and uncertainty, military professionals of our era have tended to substitute buzz words, catchphrases, and acronyms. It’s a way of muddying the water. It allows the world of war to tumble on without serious challenge ....
"The fact is that trendy acronyms and snappy buzz words have a way of limiting genuine thinking on war. If America is to win (or, far better, avoid) future wars, its war professionals need to look more honestly at that phenomenon in all of its dimensions. So, too, do the American people, for it’s in their name that such wars are allegedly waged. ...
"In short, the dishonesty of the words the US military regularly wields illustrates the dishonesty of its never-ending wars. After so many years of failure and frustration, of wars that aren’t won and terrorist movements that only seem to spread as its leaders are knocked off, isn’t it past time for Americans to ditch phrases like ;collateral damage,' 'enemy noncombatant,' 'no-fly zone' (or even worse, 'safe zone'), and 'surgical strike' and adopt a language, however grim, that accurately describes the military realities of this era?
"Words matter, especially words about war. So as a change of pace, instead of the usual bloodless euphemisms and vapid acronyms, perhaps the US government could tell the shocking and awful truth to the American people in plain language about the realities and dangers of never-ending war."
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