Time, “Media Makes the Manning Switch”

August 28, 2013

Katy Steinmetz, “Media Makes the Manning Switch” (Time Swampland blog, Aug. 28, 2013)

The prospect of a person living life as a him and then a her is still confusing for many Americans: A 2011 survey found that 3 in 10 do not know what it means to be transgender. And the idea that biological sex is divorced from culturally constructed gender—that there is something more fluid than a sex listed on a birth certificate—is not an easy one for many people.

“Identities that subvert those binaries make us uncomfortable,” said sociolinguist Ben Zimmer, executive producer at Vocabulary.com.

Pronouns can be political hot buttons, the same way marriage and husband and wife have been for those taking opposing sides when it comes to gay rights.

“Pronouns are personal,” Zimmer said. “They’re the most personal parts of speech.”

Read the rest here. (Related Language Log column)

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