Language is us applying words to some feature of life that we’d like to use a word to describe. Changing the word doesn’t change that feature. Therefore, over time, changing the word doesn’t in fact change the meaning being conveyed.
N-word to Negro to colored to African-American to Black to Person of Color is still a description of the melanin tinteness of the one being so described. Cretin to retard to disabled to differently abled to arrives on the Variety Club Fun Outing coach is still describing that same sad feature of some lives.
Members of the department’s Homeland Security Group, which leads work on Britain’s counter-terrorism response, attended a talk last week focused on “the right language” around LGBT issues.
On Monday, the Home Office moved to distance itself from its contents, which it said did not represent “departmental or government guidance”.
Across 12 slides on gender issues, first reported by Guido Fawkes, Whitehall staff were told: “Be aware a person’s sex, gender identity, and gender expression may not correspond.
“Genderqueer is a blanket term for those who don’t define their gender in binary terms … It is not a modern invention. Each identity is valid and deserves respect.”
A slide on language to avoid using included the terms homosexual and homosexuality, which it said is “generally considered a medical term now. People tend to use gay instead. Can reduce the person to purely sexual terms”. It also warned against the use of the word transsexual.
We can call it gay, homosexual, shirt-lifting or bum banditry. Genderqueer if we prefer. But it’s not going to change the connotations of the description because they are what exist and what is being described. Changing the word doesn’t change those connotations.
British society has long made distinctions here – Mrs. Patrick Campbell and not frightening the horses is different from going all John Gielgud at Praed St Gents for example. Thus cottaging is different from homosexual. But that’s very much the point being made here. We can call cottaging seeking love in a public manner if we wish, even a human right as some try to insist, but it’s still willy waving in the council privy. Changing the word doesn’t change the thing that is being described.