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Balancing Inclusivity: The Dangers of Erasing Identities in the Pursuit of Conciseness



The art of concise communication is highly prized in our fast-paced modern world, where information moves at lightning speed and attention spans appear to dwindle by the minute. We have grown accustomed to brief and snappy titles, catchy headlines, and compact soundbites that encapsulate complex ideas in a few words. While brevity in communication is valuable, it comes with its own set of challenges, particularly when discussing sensitive topics. One significant issue that warrants our attention is the inadvertent erasure of identities, particularly the omission of the word "women." In our quest for inclusivity, are we unintentionally excluding certain groups, such as transgender individuals, and causing more harm than good?

The Power of Language: Language shapes our perceptions, beliefs, and understanding of the world. Words possess the ability to uplift and empower, but they can also marginalise and erase. In the context of inclusivity, the words we select carry profound significance.

The Erasure of "Women": The omission of the word "women" has become commonplace in various forms of communication. For instance, when addressing issues related to reproductive health, some have adopted terms like "people with uteruses." While the intention is to recognise transgender men and women, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals, it often erases cisgender women.

Unintended Consequences: The omission of "women" can yield unintended consequences. It may unintentionally reinforce the notion that being a woman is solely defined by biology, disregarding the gender identity of transgender women and the experiences of cisgender women. This erasure risks alienating individuals who may feel that their experiences and needs are overlooked.

Balancing Inclusivity and Specificity: The challenge lies in striking a balance between inclusivity and specificity. While concise language is imperative for accessibility, it must not come at the cost of erasing specific identities. Inclusive language can be potent when it acknowledges various identities and experiences without marginalising any group.

Embracing Intersectionality: Intersectionality, the recognition of overlapping social identities and experiences, constitutes a critical aspect of inclusive communication. It serves as a reminder that individuals possess multifaceted identities and experiences that should be acknowledged and respected.

The Path Forward: We must engage in conscientious, inclusive language practices to tackle this issue. This entails using terms that embrace the diversity of identities, such as "women, transgender men and women, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people of all genders", to ensure that no group is erased in our discussions.

Conclusion: In our rapidly evolving world, where brevity often reigns supreme, we must remain vigilant regarding the impact of our words. Erasing identities, even unintentionally, can have far-reaching consequences. It is crucial to strike a balance between inclusivity and specificity, embracing the concept of intersectionality and utilising language that honours and acknowledges all individuals, regardless of their gender identity. Doing so can foster a more equitable and inclusive discourse where no one's identity is erased or marginalised.

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After more than 25 years of dedicated leadership in the corporate, feminist, and LGBTQ+ realms, with a profound commitment to LGBTQ+ and women's rights, I stand ready to support, consult, educate, and advise on your next diversity challenge. Your journey towards inclusivity begins with a conversation. Reach out to me at cynthiafortlage@cynthiafortlage.com with any inquiries.

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