Language has always evolved, but perhaps not as much as within the last five years.
The best I can tell, culture is racing ahead of our words, and the world is struggling to catch up.
Apropos, on Wednesday, a reporter brought news of an utterance upgrade.
Kate Sosin — a journalist for The 19th — schooled social media:
“It’s totally okay to have debate and disagree, but folks in media, the term ‘biological males’ is a serious anti-trans slur.”
It’s an interesting time for words denoting sex. From the birth of the English language, “male” sufficed. Then our new era ushered in “biological male,” contrasted against male gender identity.
Now it seems the “biological” part may be destined to go the way of the dodo.
Kate added, “You should not use it without noting that.”
It's totally okay to have debate and disagree, but folks in media, the term "biological males" is a serious anti-trans slur. You should not use it without noting that.
— Kate Sosin (@shoeleatherkate) March 17, 2021
In response to Kate’s post, “Nick Gorton, MD” seconded the motion:
“Especially as there is an accurate & acceptable option for those infrequent times when you have to describe for example the group that includes people born with a uterus: those assigned female at birth. Plus AFAB (&AMAB) are used in *both* the literature & trans community.”
Especially as there is an accurate & acceptable option for those infrequent times when you have to describe for example the group that includes people born with a uterus: those assigned female at birth. Plus AFAB (&AMAB) are used in *both* the literature & trans community.
— Nick Gorton, MD 🏳️🌈🐾 (@RNickGorton) March 18, 2021
AFAB = Assigned Female at Birth
AMAB = Assigned Male at Birth
Some disagreed with Kate and Dr. Nick:
No. Biological males have different biological makeup than male person w/ hormones to create the appearance of female. I’m sorry but that’s the truth- you cannot carve a banana shape into an apple and call it a banana- it’s not a banana it’s an apple made to appear as a banana.
— TruthSeeker (@TruthFreesUSA) March 19, 2021
We used to just say “males”, and it was perfectly clear what was meant. Then we tried to get along with you, so we started saying “biological males” when that’s what we meant. But people like you are never satisfied. The problem isn’t in language, it’s in you.
— 0xBrian (@0x_brian) March 19, 2021
Others, not so much:
It is not a scientific term and it was popularized by transphobes in order to coercively reject our existence.
— Dystopian Trans (@AuroraB80375736) March 17, 2021
Not all trans women have penises, so it’s not accurate at all.
AMAB if you must, but “woman” or “transwoman” is better
— Sarah Z. (No, not that one) (@Jachra) March 18, 2021
Like most exchanges on social media (or most modern exchanges in general?), it continued as an endless argument:
The problem is that Kate wants to force you to play “let’s pretend” with her. The solution is the realization that you don’t have to.
— Not Cubby – SuperStraight, SuperPride (@NotCubby) March 19, 2021
Use AMAB and AFAB (assigned male/female at birth) that’s what medical professionals use when they have to refer to what the person was assigned when they were born, not bio male/female bc that disregards intersex ppl who are about 1.7% of the population
— Thomas (@bluedreamthomas) March 19, 2021
It’s a scientific term. Do you think we should just get rid of science in general or just the science you don’t agree with?
— commonsense (@commonsense258) March 19, 2021
It has a very specific meaning as a strawman to paint transfolk as “crazy”. I go into how in the second half of this essay:https://t.co/nmCosMdEE6
— Kay Brown (@Display_Geek) March 17, 2021
Why would it even be relevant to mention? Mind what’s in your own pants not everyone elses.
— Anne (@bently46) March 19, 2021
I’d like to engage in this conversation, but claiming its ‘totally okay to have a debate’ but then labelling this as a ‘serious-slur’ isn’t really making this ‘totally okay to debate.’ I’m curious, but don’t want to get roasted for questioning something that’s labelled a slur.
— Zachary Giano, Ph.D. (@ZachGiano) March 17, 2021
One comment made me wanna throw up:
My mom & dad knew what they were going to get when they saw my little pee-pee on the ultrasound, while my female mother was carrying me in her womb at the time, about 6 months after my male father seeded her 🙏🤷♂️
— SinbadFury (@sinbadfury) March 20, 2021
We’re in a very new place in terms of the words we use.
As I covered last month, two hospitals in the UK are trying to get things right.
In the prenatal units of Sussex and Brighton University Hospitals NHS Trust, staff were told to eliminate words such as “breastfeeding.”
- “breast/chest milk”
- “human milk”
- “milk from the feeding mother or parent”
Back to Kate — who identifies on Twitter as a “proud trans person” — and the issue of “biological male,” there may be a simple solution.
Last year, I discovered a contemporary language guide recommending those born with penises who identify as male be called “non-transgender males.” Those born with vaginas who identify as male, it said, should be referred to as “males.”
For more on the subject of sex, find science at Forbes:
— kim elsesser, PhD (@kimelsesser) June 15, 2020
And try to keep up — without slurring your words.
Or your fellow Americans.
See more pieces from me:
Find all my RedState work here.
Thank you for reading! Please sound off in the Comments section below.