Taking Pride in Our Language: An Ally’s Perspective
By Jessica Roberts
Pride is a celebration of love and solidarity. It is a special opportunity to educate and promote how far LGBTQ+ rights have come; and how in some places, there’s still work to be done. Language exists not to confuse, but to clarify. It is used to foster an inclusive world, workplace, and safe space. By taking the time to understand the language within our community, we can create positive change bringing individuals closer together whilst creating deeper empathy for our peers. Over the years, language has been used to build a bridge between a lack of understanding, self-expression, freedom to choose and representation. We celebrate the significance of acronyms and what they have achieved on this 50th anniversary of pride!
LGBTQIA+ this is an acronym which increasingly grows as have the rights and freedoms acquired. The meaning of each of the letters tells the story of the movement itself and the different gender identities, gender expressions, and sexual orientations it encompasses that are outside of heterosexual/cisgender. If we break this down it looks like:
L – Lesbian: A woman who is attracted to women.
G – Gay: A man who is attracted to men.
B – Bisexual: A person who is attracted to both men and women.
T – Trans: The term encompasses gender identities that do not coincide with those assigned at birth.
I – Intersex: A person born with physical characteristics of both genders.
Q – Queer: People who do not want to identify under traditional or socially accepted labels.
+ – Other: People who do not identify with any of the other definitions.
What must we do?
To understand the importance of language within the LGBTQIA+ community, we must distinguish between gender identity and sexual orientation and accept they are not the same. Gender identity is a person’s sense of their own gender. Gender identity does not have to coincide with the sex a person was assigned at birth. Likewise, gender identity is not binary, thus it does not only encompass the concept of man or woman. Moreover, sexual orientation refers to the emotional, romantic and/or sexual attraction to other people.
Having a genuine appreciation for this language is essential to create diverse, equitable, and respectful personal and work environments. Fletchers have been committed to achieving an inclusive and diverse workplace! You may have seen the increase of pronouns used in our correspondence. This shows both our internal and external communities that we understand and promote the significance of language in creating an inclusive community.
Language matters. It offers validation and acceptance whilst equally, the wrong use of language can alienate and disparage. It is therefore paramount that we are aware of the impact the language we use and the context in which we are using it. Affirming and supporting people for who they are and how they identify is an integral part of creating equal space for the LGBTQ+ community. Inclusivity within language is just as important as any other kind of inclusivity within a culture.
“The language we use not only shapes our interactions with other people – it also shapes how we think, and how we perceive the world we inhabit.” – The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis