Update Your Lexicon (every two years)

Cisgender straightish white men shouldn’t define the language that identifies women, people of color, the LGBTQIA community, differently abled people, or any other diverse population. But we did. We were wrong.

Ideally we would have had a world where individuals and like minded people would have had the rights to claim their own identifying words and to explain them to others without judgement or reproach. Sadly, that world has never been.

We live in a world driven in part by human tribal instincts that will if unchecked urge us to see groups. “Us” and “them.” “In” versus “out.” “Good” and “bad.” It’s our nature. It’s in our biology. It is not however fate. Our base instincts do not have to rule our natures. We can be better. We should strive to be better. We must be better. It’s possible.

Thanks to a broadening understanding of real diversity many peoples are reclaiming old words for themselves. New words and identifying language are being coined almost all the time. Sometimes confusing for me. What do people want to be called? What pronouns should I use for different individuals? I’m not sure sometimes. Sometimes it feels uncomfortable, awkward even. To myself I say, “Suck it up. Deal with it.”

As a member of the dominant culture here in the US the least I can do is regularly update the language in my lexicon. This point was one of the early lessons that hit home for me in my certification program as a sex educator. Identifying language around gender and sexuality is changing dramatically every two years. Deal with it Brown. Stay current.

When I don’t know, ask. Worry about being emotionally correct not politically correct. In other words be kind, be curious, be gentle. I can’t think of a more beautiful way to say fuck you to the patriarchy than that.