Late last month, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary added new definitions affirming transgender identity, claiming the terms came from “science and medicine.” These terms overlooked the criticisms of detransitioned former transgender people and radical feminists who claim that transgender activism “erases lesbians.”
The dictionary announced a new slate of words on April 23, introducing new meanings for old words, new compound words, and new words from three categories: business, entertainment, and “science and medicine.”
Many of the words were apolitical, and many of the science and medicine terms were genuine additions based on new scientific terms.
Three of the new words, however, involved the politically-charged issue of transgender identity, and two of them involved an explicit endorsement of one side of the issue.
Merriam-Webster defined “gender nonconforming” as “exhibiting behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits that do not correspond with the traits typically associated with one’s sex.” This term seems less controversial. After all, many men are effeminate and many women display some traits traditionally considered masculine.
Yet the dictionary also introduced terms that explicitly affirm transgender identity and cross-sex surgery.
Merriam-Webster defined “top surgery” as “a type of gender confirmation surgery in which a person’s breasts are removed or augmented to match their gender identity.”
Merriam-Webster defined “bottom surgery” as “a type of gender confirmation surgery in which a person’s genitalia are altered to match their gender identity.”
These terms, along with the use of “gender confirmation surgery” to denote cross-sex surgery, take a biased pro-transgender approach.
The issue revolves around people who suffer from gender dysphoria (the condition of identifying with the gender opposite one’s biological sex). Gender dysphoric people have higher rates of suicide, and transgender activists argue that the solution to their plight is public acceptance of a transgender identity.
These activists push a worldview in which gender identity (a person’s conception of his or herself) is more important than biological sex (male or female determined by DNA, with few exceptions in the case of intersex people who suffer from sexual disorders). Biological sex is binary and determined on the molecular level. Its purpose is reproduction, and it does not depend on a person’s self-conception.
Noting such science, many argue that gender dysphoria is similar to anorexia. People who are not actually fat consider themselves fat and starve themselves in order to become thin. They do real damage to their bodies in service to a false identity. The correct treatment for anorexia is not public recognition of a person’s fat identity and then weight loss, but rather convincing that person that he or she is not actually fat and encouraging him or her to eat and become healthy.
Studies have found that the vast majority of children who identify as transgender eventually return to their birth sex. Former transgender people have embraced their biological sex and lamented the hormones and surgeries that permanently altered their physiology, leaving them scarred and without the healthy sex organs that correspond to their DNA.
Indeed, both conservatives and liberals have spoken out against the dangers of rushing to embrace transgender identity. While gender dysphoric people are not perverts, some perverts have taken advantage of transgender restroom and changing room policies to spy on women in states of undress. Transgender “women” have won world records in women’s sports, capitalizing on the biological advantage of testosterone. Radical feminists have warned that transgender activism is a “mens rights movement” that “erases lesbians” by encouraging them to identify as men and therefore become “straight.”
Naturally, the pro-transgender National Center for Transgender Equality celebrated the new terms on Twitter.
Attention, word nerds!
Learn how @MerriamWebster defines these words:
• gender nonconforming
• top surgery
• bottom surgery
— National Center for Transgender Equality (@TransEquality) April 23, 2019
That center argues against the term “sex change surgery” because it is “considered a derogatory term by many.” Yet other terms are also available, as The Christian Post’s Samuel Smith reported.
“Top surgery” could also be described as a “mastectomy,” the technical term for the removal of breasts. As for “bottom surgery,” the terms “vaginoplasty” (the artificial creation of the female sex organ) and “phalloplasty” (the artificial creation of the male sex organ) would suffice. Clitoroplasty (the creation of the clitoris), labiaplasty (creation of labia), orchiectomy (removal of testicles), penectomy (removal of the male sex organ), hysterectomy (removal of the uterus), and metoidioplasty (creation of an artificial male sex organ using the clitoris) would also be more specific.
Terms like castration would also be specific, scientific, and accurate — though many consider such a term offensive.
Rather than these scientific terms, some of which do not carry negative connotations, Merriam-Webster Dictionary chose the vaguer, less scientific “top surgery” and “bottom surgery.” Worse, they claimed these terms came from “science and medicine.”
There is strong debate in scientific and medical fields, not to mention politics, about these issues. While many scientific and medical establishments have rushed to affirm transgender identity, many rightly warn about the repercussions of such a move. Science and medicine are far from unanimous, and Merriam-Webster is attempting to shift the playing field — the very meaning of words — in favor of transgender activism.
Is it not Orwellian to define words in such a manner as to silence criticism on important controversial issues?
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.