content note: somewhat political

Depending on who you ask, the word of the year for 2018 is justice (Merriam-Webster), misinformation (dictionary.com), toxic (Oxford dictionaries), or single-use (Collins).

The Macquarie Dictionary and Australian Dictionary Centre haven't announced theirs yet, and the American Dialect Society, which started choosing a word of the year in the 1990s, well before any of those dictionaries, will vote in early January.

Those are based on some combination of what's been looked up most and what some group (large or small, expert or self-selected) thinks is most relevant and/or most useful. M-W.com also lists "top lookups," which seems to be based on spikes in queries: there may not have been a day on which "excelsior" was looked up more than any other word, but excelsior got a lot of attention after Stan Lee died. ("Respect" and "maverick" are on the 2018 list for similar reasons.) The ADS is specifically looking for new words or usages (so "singular they" and "because" followed directly by a reason rather than with a preposition have both been selected as their word of the year in the past).

The ADS has also been doing this long enough to have selected words of the decade for the 1990s and 2000s, a word of the (20th) century (jazz), and of the millennium (she). That's "she" as distinct from "hen" (the older word for plural "they," after which our ancestors started using "they" rather than "hen," (probably because it's easier to distinguish from "he"), and English-speakers have spent centuries, literally, disagreeing over whether "they" or "he" is the right word for one person of unknown gender.
Language Log linked to an OED post on that dictionary's "release notes" for updated entries on words to do with gender and sexuality. The post title says "formal language" but the discussion includes "trans*" and "cis," which don't feel formal to me, as well as "heterosexual" and the changing meanings of "bisexual" over time and in different contexts.

The author notes that the editors made extensive use of the Digital Transgender Archive. The earliest citations the OED could find for agender and cisgender were on Usenet. (On the other hand, the earliest usage they found for "transgendered" was from the TV magazine section of the Des Moines Sunday Register.
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
( Nov. 26th, 2017 08:13 pm)
I just got an email recruiting subjects for paid "medical conditions research." (I get a bunch of these, and every few years I match what they're looking for and get paid to answer questions.) The survey dropped me after three questions, when I said I haven't been diagnosed with osteoporosis.

What interests me is that the second question, after age, was "What is the gender on your birth certificate?" with options male, female, and prefer not to say. Usually this company asks simply "what is your gender?" Given that they're interested in osteoporosis, I would guess they're asking for gender "on your birth certificate" because exposure to sex hormones is relevant, and they think that maps onto gender assigned at birth.

Aside from the possible cissexism here, that question may not get the researchers the information I think they're looking for, because some trans* people have corrected birth certificates that show their actual gender rather than what was assigned at birth. (I am guessing the author of the survey was trying not to offend people, since they didn't ask about "biological" gender.)
redbird: a two-gendered cardinal, female one side and male the other (two-gendered cardinal)
( Jul. 5th, 2011 09:47 pm)
Another person’s sex or gender identification cannot possibly change my own, or threaten it in any way. About the worst that another person’s sex or gender identification can do to mine is to make me think a little more carefully about my own sex and gender and how those things are a part of my life.

I’m gonna say this because it needs to be said: if your own sense of yourself can’t hold up to the occasional bit of introspective scrutiny, you have bigger fish to fry than how someone else is identifying hir sex or gender. —Hanne Blank

This is somewhat fragmentary, because I'm writing it two weeks after the fact.

people and conversation, plus one panel )
redbird: a two-gendered cardinal, female one side and male the other (two-gendered cardinal)
( Apr. 20th, 2011 09:39 pm)
[personal profile] adrian_turtle came down to New York for a seder at my aunt Lea's. (Lea specifically invited her as well as me and [livejournal.com profile] cattitude, who was too swamped by work to come with us.) Again, not only do my family like Adrian, they seemed glad that I bring someone who can sing. My cousin Janet was talking about my grandmother on the other side of the family's singing, and I said something about that being the job of my side of the family (broadly defined).

Janet (our leader) said she didn't think we needed to adjust the language much for feminist purposes, in part because this was very much a women-run seder. (We started with one man present, and Dave never says much.) So we used the traditional Maxwell House haggadah; Lea noted that this is the one the president uses.

I heard a bit more about Frieda's history, and good things Grandpa did. (Frieda isn't blood kin as far as I know, but my mother and aunts refer to her as their "fourth sister.")

There were some new-to-me people at the seder, neighbors my aunt knows from her Shakespeare class. So she gave them the apartment tour, and when we sat down noted that almost everything in the room was from other members of the family, including my grandparents' expanding table and some of their dishes. (My aunt has bought furniture, it's just mostly in other parts of her home.)

Partway through the seder Janet's boyfriend John arrived. As in past years, he was loud and seemed to feel the need to be at the center of attention. This involved, among other things, asking questions some of which I realized afterward he had to know the answers to. Maybe he didn't know that humans are the only animals with a menstrual cycle, but I refuse to believe that a recently retired science teacher doesn't know what the male and female parts of a flower are. That's fourth grade material. But because it's fourth grade material, and I had it on my desk an hour earlier, I just answered without stopping to analyze.

A little later, the topic of eggs, egg-laying, and male animals that carry or protect eggs (I think) led to my aunt saying that egg-laying animals are defined as female. John's reply was "Well, what about transvestites or transsexuals or whatever they are? They don't lay eggs—are they female?" Adrian answered that a person's gender is whatever the person says it is. John challenged that idea (which I know is not universally accepted), and then asked something clueless about (IIRC) the difference between "transgender" and "transsexual." My first response was "Do you have a few hours?" Then I and Adrian settled in to do a bit of Trans 101. That's not what I'd expected that afternoon, but it may have done some good—probably not with him, but with some of the other people there, who seemed uninformed but not hostile. For example, one of them said she thought transgendered people were "confused," and I just said that my trans friends didn't seem confused, though other people sometimes are. Adrian suggested on our way home that he had probably been leading into some kind of ignorant "joke," but that he hadn't been counting on throwing those questions to a room where the answers included "Well, my doctor is trans, and…," me talking about trans friends, and my aunt being calm and thorough on biological questions.

I think we did a decent job with that bit of education, and I'm fairly sure it was better than if we'd left the topic lying there after John tried to heap scorn on the idea that a person can say "I'm a woman" and have that be meaningful. If I'm less practiced at Trans 101 than some people, I'm also less worn out by having to do it, both for the same reason: I'm cisgendered, and most people read me as female, so I don't have a lot of these conversations. And I was talking in third person, which in some ways is safer.

I also had a nice catching-up talk with my cousin Karina before the meal, as well as chatting with Janet; the one thing I regret is that I barely got to say more than hello to my cousin Anne. Had the conversation not veered the ways it did, I might have asked Janet how her father is doing; I tentatively attribute his absence to introversion and/or not liking crowds of his wife's relatives, even if he's known them for half a century.

Because food also matters: I ate lots of charoses, in part because it seemed most other people had forgotten that there was any left, and of a good cucumber salad. My only contribution was some Ceylon teabags; I wanted something good that wouldn't need milk, so threw a half dozen in my bag. One of Lea's friends made a very nice ground walnut and lemon cake. And my aunt Lea made a point of giving me one of the few remaining glass teacups and saucers (again, stuff from Grandma and Grandpa) to drink from.

(Edited to change title: I'd thought I was writing an outline, and it turned into a real post.)
redbird: women's lib: raised fist inside symbol for woman (feminism)
( Nov. 20th, 2010 03:55 pm)
Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. One person murdered because of prejudice and ignorance would be too many: there are hundreds.
A couple of days ago, in the course of conversation, [livejournal.com profile] cattitude showed me one of the "Old Spice Guy" ads that came out a little while ago. (It was relevant, and I hadn't previously bothered to look at any.)

So, the thing starts "look at me. Now look at your guy. Now look at me." So I did, and I smiled at Cattitude, and then looked back at the screen. In the course of 30 seconds of boasting, the Old Spice spokesman insults "your guy" (who I like better than that random muscled stranger) and then argues that "smells like a lady" is a disadvantage. For me, if "smells like a woman" means anything, it's pleasant thoughts of [personal profile] adrian_turtle, so positive rather than negative. And those smell-memories aren't from scented deodorant.

I can see how this ad might work on a lot of people, but my reactions were "don't dis my beloved," "what's wrong with that?" (the "smells like a lady" part), and "I am clearly not the target market here."

This isn't a "why would anyone do that?" moment, it's a case of pop culture/marketing passing me by because I'm not what they're looking at: in purely numerical terms, an ad that works on straight women and/or men who are or want to be involved with straight women, but puzzles or alienates some bi women and our partners is worthwhile. (This is "alienates" on the level of "I am not going to suggest someone use this," not "avoid people who have anything to do with this" or even "if you enjoyed these, you're weird."

(I am not a potential customer for the product itself because, as an anti-perspirant, it contains aluminum compounds that make me break out. This does simplify choosing a deodorant.)
[livejournal.com profile] cattitude and I went to the Bronx Zoo today. I walked up to the edge of the lion enclosure to watch them, and a small boy who was standing in front of me looked at me and said "Why do you have a beard?" I said "Because I grew it, the same as anyone else." Then he asked "Why are you a girl?" and I said "You'd have to ask my parents, they made me one." At that point he said something about the gazelles in the area behind the lions, and we both focused on the big cats.

A more accurate answer to the first question would have been "because I'm lazy": shaving is a nuisance and leads to stubble and itching (sometimes itchiness by the end of the same day), and any more permanent hair removal would require me to be sure I wanted it and set aside time (as well as money). But I suspect that was even further from what he was thinking, which probably was in the area of "I thought you couldn't do that."

It was a good day for the zoo in other ways: cool (call it 70F, 21C) and overcast, so a lot of animals were active. The lions were moving around, even chasing each other a bit, as were the gazelles behind them. We spent a while watching the hyraxes in the baboon area. At first they were still and very hard to see: they're almost exactly the color of the rocks. But some of them moved around, and both Cattitude and a woman who was just standing and watching pointed some of them out to me. That was fun; I like hyraxes, in a somewhat intellectual way. (Small, obscure mammals whose closest relatives are elephants.)

We also had fun with snow leopards (again, quite a bit more active than usual) and the white-naped cranes. The young crane looks a lot more like his parents than he did on our last visit: brownish head, and his body feathers are graying, but still a little browner than his parents. Their pond is covered with duckweed, which made a nice contrast.

There were a lot of chipmunks just running around (the zoo is full of them, but we rarely see them, because they tend to stay under cover), and cardinals singing. We also watched the giraffes and ostriches for a bit. Skipped the tigers because I was tired by then. (I decided against going to hang out with [livejournal.com profile] elisem and other folks in Greenwich Village, because by the time we got back to Inwood I was tired, and not at all sure I had the energy to go downtown, enjoy hanging out, and get home again. Alas.)
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redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
( Aug. 14th, 2010 08:49 pm)
Yesterday my boss told me in email that we (the department, or maybe the whole office) have an extension on the midyear performance reviews, so we could wait until Tuesday to discuss mine. And she attached it, so I could read it beforehand. I'm pretty happy: she said a bunch of good things about me, and noted that it would be good if I slowed down on a few things and gave them a bit more attention even if it meant I was slightly late on deadlines. This is something I need to keep working on (she said, typing furiously).

(At the same time, I had an apa deadline at 7 this evening, and started writing sometime after 1:00.)

I met [personal profile] roadnotes last night, for sushi and conversation. We rendezvous'd at Varsano's; I was a bit early, and there was nobody else there, so I not only have a variety of chocolate, I had a nice chat with Marc Varsano about Barcelona (he's just back from vacation) and London (because he wants to go there, and I've been), and food. The conversation with roadnotes was a lot (though not only) about people we've known a long time (or knew a long time ago), who she, I, or both were thinking about for various reasons. And a bit of that was one thing leading to another, either conceptually or because they were about the same person or time. There was one thing she told me that, when I came home and told [personal profile] cattitude, led him to thank me for being a sane, decent person. It's something worth doing, for myself as much as for others; some bits of sane are easier than others, but I think I'm doing pretty well on decent.

Something I forgot to mention in my last gym post: Emilie told me about someone who was being obnoxious about not putting away her cell phone in the locker room (the classic bit of talking loudly and at length about how somebody was making her end her phone call, instead of "sorry, gotta go, I'll call you back"), and then told me why they're making more of a point of enforcing that rule right now: someone was caught using the cell phone camera in the locker room, and it had taken Emilie and other gym staff an hour and a half to get her to delete the photos. Emilie was also worried that the photographer might have already sent some of the photos to her computer, or a friend.

As many of you know, I'm pretty easy about nudity: but that doesn't mean I think everyone is, or needs to be, and it doesn't mean that I like the idea of a random stranger photographing me while I'm toweling off my leg.

Last weekend, Adrian had noted that the locker room in the Boston Sports Club had signs about inappropriate [sexual] behavior in the sauna and steam room and that they will revoke gym memberships if those norms are violated, and that Healthworks (which is women-only) doesn't. But they aren't primarily concerned about privacy or photographs: this is about not spreading HIV and other infections. The signs in the New York Sports Club explain that the health department inspects the locker rooms regularly. My suspicion is that the main reason they have that sign in the women's locker room is that, in a mixed-sex gym, that's easier than having it only in the men's locker room, rather than because they're expecting women to have anonymous and/or unprotected sex in the sauna.
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One of the smaller annoyances of February* is that the gym is still more crowded than usual. If it was this crowded year-round, I might look for a different gym, or at least a different branch; as is, I wait for some of the new year's resolvers to stop, and for some of the people who would really rather be running or cycling outdoors to decide it's warm enough. Also, in all that crowd, after doing a few things with weight machines, I walked out of the room I'd been working in (on my way to do some stuff on an exercise mat), glanced behind me, and thought "where are the women?" Glancing around, I'd seen 15 or so people, all male, and everyone I had talked to or noticed in that room had been male. Broadly, the answer seems to be "in the cardio room, and in classes," but while there are always more men than women working with weights, it's not always that extreme.

details, largely numerical )

*Unpleasantly cold weather and icy sidewalks are significantly larger annoyances, even for me, and they affect far more people.
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