Posts Tagged ‘language

09
Sep
13

Let’s all do The Communication!

Hello friends. I have a few things to say on the subject of communication. Some broad thoughts and some specific requests.

 I will no longer respond to messages in my social media that don’t at least attempt proper grammar, spelling and punctuation. It makes me twitch when I open a message from an adult that looks like it could have been written by a toddler.

I’m not going to be a douche about it. I’m fine with slang, also standard netspeak. (Though if you are over 40, please try to have some idea of correct usage for netspeak/slang!! Srsly!) Also, if you genuinely are a terrible writer/speller who somehow has no access to auto-correct or spell check, don’t sweat it. However, if you do have those things, by all means, use them!

It’s actually pretty easy to tell the difference between people who can’t do things and people who simply aren’t trying. If you are trying but simply cannot do it, I’ll be nice I promise.

The only time I find it appropriate to bend these rules are when we are chatting/instant messaging IRL (See how I still used that in a proper sentence?!?). In which case, relaxation of these rules aides in speed and efficiency of communication. Let the flow of the conversation be your guide. But please at least start at the top of your intelligence.

Finally, if you have something to say, then say it! If you have a question, then ask it! Don’t make me dance around with endless rounds of “Hi”, “How r u?” or, “u busy”. This makes me really crazy. Especially since, given my improv training and natural inclinations, I will usually simply reflect whatever you lead with and it will take forever to get anywhere.

I’m an advice columnist, public figure, and if we are connected on a social media platform, I at least nominally think of you as a friend. You can ask me questions in private. It’s okay. I give you permission.

If you are worried, then let me know the nature of the question, so I can decide for myself. In all likelihood I’ll probably still be okay with it and I will definitely let you know either way. I do think politeness is awesome! And proper etiquette rocks!! But I’m not completely hung up on it. Just do your best and you’ll be fine.

Okay? I mean, I don’t want to be a jerk, but I am a writer and performer. Language is clearly kind of important to me. I like to surround myself with people who are relatively well-spoken. And I enjoy intelligent conversation more than most things.

But hey, not everyone I know and like is well-spoken or skilled at writing. I do understand. I am just so tired of opening my inboxes and seeing mangled language and corrupted communication. It wastes my time and yours. Plus, it makes me sad.

Do you remember the crying Indian (Native American) from those anti-littering ads from the late seventies and early eighties? Well, if you do, picture that whenever you start to type a message to me that has no capitalization or punctuation to speak of.

Crying Indian Ad

Let us please remember that the purpose of language is to facilitate effective communication between people.  When it is used properly, it’s even quite beautiful! To quote the linguist Henry Higgins in George Bernard Shaw’s play, ‘Pygmalion’: “Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech, that your native language is the language of Shakespeare and Milton and The Bible.”

Social media also has the positive potential to facilitate new kinds of effective communication between people. In ways we have never seen before! This does nothing to diminish the usefulness of properly used written forms however. If anything, it makes them all the more important!

As always, I love you all! And I look forward to some great communications!

24
Jan
10

Some Thoughts On The Word “Transgender”

I wrote this as a response to an excellent post in The Bilerico Project discussing the validity of the term “transgender”.  There is quite an interesting discussion developing in the commentary section following the post and I felt compelled to have my say.  I highly recommend checking it out.  Here is the link: “Should We Scrap the Word “Transgender”? By: Dr. Jillian T. Weiss”

It made me think, and of course write, and I wanted to share what I had to say with you my Dear Readers, as I felt it was important.  Please feel free to weigh in and discuss yourselves in the comments.

Here is what I wrote:

First of all, excellent post.  I believe polite dialogue on this issue within the community is always important.  That said, here’s my take.

I myself identify as a transsexual woman.  I have been on HRT for several years and am still pre-operative.  There are a number of reasons for this.  Financial of course.  Also, being careful to take my time and let things progress as naturally as possible.  But lately, my reasons have also been political.  The more concerned individuals, strangers and the general public seems to be with the state of my genitalia, the more inclined I am to leave it as is.  I am a woman.  I live breathe and think as a woman.  Unless we are sharing intimate relations, or I’m naked onstage (which has happened and probably will again…), the state of my genitalia should be of no concern.

I am medically altering my body and mind with the use of hormones so I identify very technically as transsexual.  I also however identify as transgender, again for very political reasons.  We are fighting an uphill battle to win equal rights for our community and I believe we need every body onboard that we can get.  It is only through solidarity within the community that falls under the transgender umbrella and with our allies in the larger GLBT community that we can hope to win these rights.  When we are splintered we are weak.  The only people this benefits are those who would oppress us.

That doesn’t mean we have to agree on every single nuance, but it does mean we MUST stand together and include every single person that faces discrimination based upon their gender identity or presentation.

It is not conformance to outdated ideas of what constitutes a “properly gendered” individual, but education of the general public as to the perception of gender and the evolution of what that represents, that is what we should be doing.  In plain English, we need to make them understand that what truly defines gender in a public setting is not anatomy but presentation and perception.  Okay, so maybe that’s not such plain English either, but it’s a complex idea and by ignoring the complexity of it we do a disservice to the movement.

The label “transgender” indeed represents a great deal of variation on a theme.  The theme of gender variance.  Perhaps it would help to think of it in terms of Jazz music.  The tune, “Dream A Little Dream Of Me” can be played in any number of different styles with all kinds of different interpretations and still remain recognizable.  Whether by Louis Armstrong, Doris Day, The Mamas and Papas, Ella Fitzgerald or Erasure, it is still the same song although with widely varying musical and perceptual impact.

While “transgender” may include some folks with whom we may be personally uncomfortable, if we can’t find a way to accept them, how can we ask others to accept us?

I have faith also in the general public.  On a non-political, everyday interaction level, I have found most people, if you give them the chance, are quite capable of open-mindedness and acceptance of transgender people on an individual level.  And they are certainly capable of also sorting out on a practical level when someone is, for instance, entering a restroom to use it in the manner it is meant for and when there is a person whose intent and actions in entering a restroom are socially and legally inappropriate.

Of course there are those who will panic and judge all of us without thinking, but that is why we need legally protected rights and general education.

Finally, as performer who works in a popular medium, sketch comedy and improv, it is my experience that people often need a certain generality or shorthand in order to easily and quickly grasp larger concepts.  I can refer to someone who is “African-American” in a scene and give an audience a general enough idea of what I’m talking about.  But if I say, “You know Joe in the office, the medium-dark-skinned, Indiana born and raised, Hravard Educated, Gay Man of Haitian and American slave descended, African origin ethnicity, guy in accounting?” instead of, “You know Joe in the office, the African-American guy in accounting?”  The whole thing will come to a crashing halt.  Too much information.

We need generalities to understand the world.  And if you want to know how an individual SELF-Defines, well then, just ask.

Lorelei Erisis at Noho Trans Pride 2009




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