VideoIdentity Through Language

Identity Through Language

Pronouns, labels, and even new names are incredible tools through which people find meaning and community with others.

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Language is always evolving as we learn more about the world and how people navigate it. Things like pronouns, labels, and even new names are incredible ways in which people find meaning and community with others. However, these changes may feel intimidating if it's new to you. (chilled upbeat music) Hi everyone, and welcome to Headspace. I'm Cornell Verdeja-Woodson, and I'm the director of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging here at Headspace. Today, we'll be talking about labels within the LGBTQIA+ community and the power that language holds as a way of affirming identities. Whether you know it or not, there are people in your community who are using language to affirm their identities. Some may be using a new name after transitioning, others are placing pronouns after their Zoom names, and some folks have discovered new labels for themselves under the LGBTQIA+ banner that feels more authentic. And these are only a few examples of the ways in which language evolves. A good example of evolving language is the term, "queer". Way back when in the 16th century, the word used to mean strange. And then in the 20th century, it became a hateful, derogatory term used towards anyone who was, or was perceived to be a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. After the Stonewall riots of 1969, activists began reclaiming the term, and by 2016, GLAD officially added Q to the LGBT acronym. This word went through quite a few changes. Today, it's accepted as an identifier for one sexuality, but some folks still find the term hurtful. Changes in language can occur from the deeply human need to self-express and self-identify. The action of reclaiming the term, queer, at the Stonewall is an example of a change in language as a form of protest and resistance. Now that you have some more context on how important language can be as a member or an ally to the LGBTQ community, let's talk about some best practices for positive change that you can make today. Do you recall the beginning of this video? I said, "Hi everyone." You might be used to hearing people say, "Ladies and gentlemen", or "Boys and girls". This is binary-assumptive language, and it's fine to use if you're referring to specific persons and know their pronouns, but there are inclusive alternatives. "Everyone" is an example of a gender-inclusive term. It makes no assumptions of a person's gender. The Safe Zone project provides insight into what more inclusive language can look like. Mailman or a fireman, for example, assumes that only one gender does these jobs, but in reality, people of all genders do. Consider using inclusive alternatives like mail clerk or firefighter. Pronouns, which are words used to refer to others in the third person, are another simple way to signal support and affirmation for LGBTQIA+ folks. The most often used pronouns like she/her and he/him make a gendered assumption usually based on how a person looks, or what their names are. In the...


Duration6 min

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