Labels, labels, labels . . .

Call some gay people “queer” and they will say you are homophobic. It used to be considered derogatory. But many younger gay people, and others in the LGBT communities, say they have reclaimed the word and use it to label everyone in those communities. They are not using it in the “gay” context; it has a whole new meaning now. Wikipedia saysQueer is an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities that are not heterosexual, or gender-binary.”

So, what if you are an older gay man or woman and your don’t want someone to call you “queer”?

Answer: Tough luck. Many people bent on using the term will call you “queer” anyway.

Ditto for the word “cisgender,” a relatively new term used by some to describe people who are happy with their birth sex. In other words, you were born as a man and live as a man, you are a cisgendered male, or a cissexual, or a cis male. The reverse for a female.

I was chewed out recently by a transgender advocate because I used the term “natal female” to describe a woman; I had to differentiate between a gender-transitioned woman and a born-woman in my article.

The trans person said I should have used “cisgender woman.” When I pointed out that a lot of women — and men — don’t like the “cisgender” label and don’t want to be labelled thus, she told me that women who won’t accept the term are all transphobic radical feminists, or TERFS.

I told her that she really can’t generalize about these things, that lots of women who support trans people don’t like the label, but she would have none of it. She would continue to label natal women as cisgendered whether they like it or not.

I don’t work that way. I respect an individual’s preference.

How about you? What do you think of the two labels?

— Jillian