“Transgendered” Is Not A Word. Stop Using It. (UPDATED)

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This doesn’t need to be a long post. The title says it all. “Transgendered” is not a word. For some reason, though, people use it all the time. I’m sick of it, so let me make this crystal clear.

The adjective is “transgender” or “trans” for short.

Examples of usage:

She is transgender.

Zi is trans.

The transgender community includes many diverse identities, all of which might be considered trans.

There has never been a reported case of transgender people using bathrooms for devious purposes.

Being trans is not a condition. It’s not something that has happened to a person. It is who a person is.

“Transgender” is not a verb. Thus, a person can not transgender, nor can a person be transgendered. (A person can transition, and a person can have transitioned.)

For some reason when I hear people say “transgendered,” it sounds like “mutated” or “disfigured.” It makes it sound like trans people aren’t real people. It’s grammatically incorrect and belies an understanding and respect for trans people and their identities.

Is this semantics? Yes.
Is it important? Yes.
Is continued use of “transgendered” offensive? Yes.

I want to also point out that my argument is in agreement with both the GLAAD Media Reference Guide and the NLGJA Stylebook on LGBT Terminology. Please consult these free resources if you have further questions about LGBT terminology.

Thank you for your time.

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There are 15 Comments to "“Transgendered” Is Not A Word. Stop Using It. (UPDATED)"

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Zack Ford. Zack Ford said: ZackFord Blogs – "Transgendered" Is Not A Word. Stop Using It. – http://is.gd/c6fY0 #lgbt #trans #p2 […]

  • J Doe says:

    Yes, thanks for this. It’s not just semantics; you put the case quite clearly, if I recall – when someone calls me transgendered, they’re implying that “transgender” is something that was done to me, as opposed to just an aspect of who I am. “Transgendered” delegitimizes my gender.
    What’s even worse, though, is when “transgender” is used as a noun to refer to someone, e.g. “A transgender said…” or “The transgenders don’t like that.” It’s extremely dehumanizing. On top of that, it’s often used as a sneaky way to avoid using the correct pronouns for people and (when applicable) ungender them.
    Use of gay and lesbian as nouns bothers me for the same reason, aside from the ungendering. I’ve never heard someone say “a gay” or “the gays” without going on to say something prejudiced. Lesbian is used as a noun more often, so it isn’t as obvious, but I still don’t know…

  • Lysa says:

    Please don’t be so presumptuous.
    I am a transgendered person (thanks for asking). I am not “transgender.” “Gendered” is an adjective, as the OED defines it: “Specific to, biased towards, or belonging to one of the sexes or genders; divided or differentiated according to gender.” I am gendered. Being human, that’s pretty much inescapable. However, while my internal gender is unmistakable and fairly conventional (I am “female-gendered” or simply “female”), my life experience transgresses traditional gender boundaries, and thus I am “transgendered” or simply “trans.” Of course, “trans-” is a prefix, so I don’t need a hyphen in “transgendered”; “trans” as an adjective is an abbreviation that has taken on its own meaning.
    “Transgender” describes abstract concepts: “transgender rights,” “transgender literature,” etc., with similar linguistic justification.
    Yes, the OED uses both “transgender” and “transgendered” as adjectives to describe individuals. I really don’t care about that, or what any other formal organization says. The fact remains that all these words are neologisms, and the language evolves rapidly as social attitudes towards trans people change, and thus also trans people’s attitudes toward certain word and phrases, some of which might be seen as stuffy and old-fashioned in just a few years.
    I agree that language is important. I respect your right to suggest which words to use, and even more, which ones not to (unless you abuse that right to marginalize others — though I’m certainly not suggesting you’re doing anything even close to that).
    All I ask is that you understand that many people disagree with you with good reason and equally impassioned feeling. When someone calls me “transgender” I find it quite grating to my ears and dismissive of my experience. I am not a concept. I am a person, a fully and validly gendered person. Please try to understand and respect that, just as I understand and respect your feelings on this matter.

  • ZackFord says:

    I would never try to tell people how to identify themselves. I’m going to offer a counterargument, but it’s about the words in general and not how you identify. Thanks for your comment.

    The thing that strikes me about the word “gendered” is that we rarely, if ever, use it to describe people. We use it to describe objects: gendered restrooms, gendered clothing, gendered schools. Things are gendered when we force a gender upon them. We don’t talk about gendered people; we talk about people having gender. We put the people first.

    Trans- as a prefix can mean many things: “across,” “through,” “spanning,” “over,” or many other prepositions. I’m sure every member of the trans community thinks about it in their own way. But it describes their gender, not how they were gendered. “Trans,” I would think, is not what your gender is, but describes how you experience gender. Rather than fitting neatly into how we categorically think of gender, you are literally trans-gender.

    That is why I think I can be most respectful by never using the -ed form. If that is what you choose for yourself, then I have no choice but to respect that for you.

  • Avery says:

    THANK YOU!  Sheesh.  I have no idea why people don’t get this.  Cisgender people aren’t womaned or manned… and transgender people aren’t transgendered.  (Btw… we had dinner together randomly in Dallas in February at the Cosmic Cafe… you may or may not remember me)

  • Coletta Allison says:

    Due to the issues that I have with my born gender I’m a trans woman, But, The reason for this is that I am a woman, not transgendered. I’m simply female and and another part of womanhood.

    I’m Coletta a woman, no other names are needed.

  • Toby says:

    This isn’t 100% related, but I’d like to add it here anyhow. Both “transwoman” and “transman” are somewhat dehumanizing, as “trans” is in itself an adjective. I think “trans man,” “trans woman,” “trans person/people,” or simply “trans” is much more appropriate and respectful. People do not call each other “Asianmen” or “deafwomen.”

  • Denaturalised says:

    Thanks J Doe and Lysa,
    You both represent different frequencies on the structuralist or post-structuralist wavelength of the argument. I appreciate that you both contribute.

    When talking to conventional gays (those who do not know or reject queer theory) I often find myself typing same sexed sex or gendered and then going back and deleting the ‘ed’ because I know it’s only going to get me misunderstood.

    As a cis-male I can say that yes, gender is ‘done’ to us, is learned by our bodies, rewarded by our peers, etched into every waking moment. Its obviousness and naturalness are just a testament to how well this system works.

    Gender is representative. We may feel impulses in our flesh but gendering is like a foothold on the cliff of language. Gendering shows us where we can cling on and be valid. Gender happens outside of our bodies – it occurs in colours in rhythms, in postures and gestures, it is a performance that through sheer repitition makes us forget that there are other songs and other dances.

  • Jay B. says:

    Of course, everyone is going to keep their differing opinions, and it would be best to just avoid the whole matter altogether by just speaking about trans (or trans*) people (please, let there be no controversy over those two!).

  • romham says:

    Just a word of caution around some of the language here, without making any assumption about your experience:

    When you say in your post “For some reason when I hear people say “transgendered,” it sounds like “mutated” or “disfigured.” It makes it sound like trans people aren’t real people.“, for some reason (i.e. ableism) it makes me feel disrespected as a person with disabilities. Please don’t do that. Being “mutated” or “disfigured” =/= not “real people”, but is certainly an all-too-common trope i hear on repeat. It translates in some ways to my trans experience as well, but they’re quite different.

    Just something to think about.

  • Steve says:

    While I agree that word and usage of said words are important, I do not find it offensive to say I am “transgender”, “transgendered” or “transman” All I think is quite offensive at least to me is the word “tranny” who connotates mostly a prostitute in most people’s minds. As a gay transman, I find it much like “taking our language back” I think that people have different experiences and opinions about word usage. Anyhow that’s just my view.
    Thanks for reading.

  • Marco says:

    Please supply me with some spare time. Apparently you have copious amounts. In the meantime I will judge people buy their hearts and their deeds and not be a slave to the dictionary. The “word police” are hard at work telling us that the word “marriage” belongs to them alone, so some of us are kind of fed up with that nonsense.

  • seebs says:

    I just feel I should point out:

    The majority of the trans people I know specifically prefer “transgendered”, which is a perfectly valid construction. You’re right, gender isn’t a verb. It’s a noun. This is the same sort of construction as “red-haired” or “long-legged”. No one thinks that hair and legs are verbs. Both words appear to have been around for a while, and it’s not obvious that either is conclusively wrong.

  • OldWhovian says:

    As someone who considers herself transgendered, I really don’t feel it’s that important. What is more frustrating to me, and those that I know that are like me, is that we keep having to change nomenclature. The real issue isn’t the grammatical digestion of the word, it’s that people will continue to use whatever label we claim to mean something offensive or dehumanizing. I am a proud transgendered human being. My gender does not align with the sex I was born, regardless of the reason, so to me, that word fits. If people want to use floobledobble to describe themselves, so be it, it shouldn’t have to be an issue.

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