Above is a “Quick Take” from the July 26th issue of World Magazine titled “Crazy in Canada” that scoffs at the Canadian ruling allowing school children to use their desired pronouns..
I have been stomaching similar articles from this publisher for years, and have grown accustomed to such toxic writing. This time, what caught my eye wasn’t the overt sense of superiority, mocking tone, or disregard for transgender individuals (sadly, these are par for the course for this magazine)- it was their use of the word “transgendered”. The unnamed author, writing both about transgender issues and use of the English language, displayed a lack of knowledge of both.
“Henceforth, teachers will be told to use transgender pronouns like “xe, xem, and xyr” to replace ‘he, him, and his’ provided the student identifies xemself as transgendered.”
From a grammatical standpoint, “transgendered” would be a participial adjective. Such adjectives are formed from verbs and end with –ed (or –ing). Examples are interested, salted, deflated, dyed, and dented. Notice that each of these can be a verb: to interest, to salt, to dye. For “transgendered” to be an adjective, “transgender” must first be a verb. Supposing it was, it could be used accordingly: a surgeon’s profession might be to transgender people, a woman could begin her transgendering, a teenager could be considered transgenderable, and there could be process called transgenderization. Notice how ridiculous these things sound? The adjective is “transgender”, plain and simple. It doesn’t matter whether it is a person or an organization, what body modifications the person has or hasn’t made, or a person’s gender expression. Transgender is always an adjective and no other part of speech, plain and simple.
As previously mentioned, whoever wrote this article is woefully ignorant of transgender issues and the English language. Why then, did this person write about this topic? Perhaps in their ignorance they feel enlightened, or it could be they truly believe that they’re an expert on the subject. Maybe they simply submitted the article without proofreading. Whatever their reason, they showed how little they care about anyone who is not cisgender by not even bothering to learn proper terminology.
The danger of this mistake lies in the fact that this magazine provides misinformation to its 100,000 readers. With the amount of danger and discrimination transgender people regularly face, and the fact that this group is largely invisible to society, the publicity received on these issues should at least be intelligible and factual. The sarcastic, “get a load of this” voice the author uses, in tandem with their indifference to proper word usage only works to reaffirm the public’s misunderstanding and antagonism toward the transgender community. If a professional writer cannot be bothered to learn how to talk about transgender people, how will people in everyday life speak? Surely they will not take the time to research it themselves. They will happily use incorrect pronouns, “transgendered” and pejoratives without second thought. In a time when it’s not even safe for a transgender teen to ride the subway, accurate information about this group is the starting place for the acceptance that could save lives.
Interestingly enough, this piece was in the same issue as another article explaining the necessity for detailed and accurate representation of news by the media.
My plan was to write this publication as a letter explaining my distress over this mistake. That was, however, until I learned this was likely no mere mistake. World Magazine, in their numerous transphobic articles, from a variety of authors, has repeatedly used the word “transgendered” (Each of those underlined words is a different link to World’s articles.).
To contact World Magazine:
Write: WORLD Mailbag, PO Box 20002, Asheville, NC 28802-9998