Dear New York Times
Please stop referring to males as females, women or girls. These words are not yours to give away.
Dear New York Times,
Thank you for starting to address the problems with letting males compete in women's sport. I appreciate the nuanced considerations and the effort to broach this heated topic. However, your coverage was deeply insulting and offensive to women.
Please stop using the words "woman", “girl” or "female" to describe trans-identified males.
Woman is the word we use to describe our unique needs and experiences as adult human females. We need our words—woman, female and girl—to describe our struggles, our rights and our fight to push back against a world that is often easier to navigate as a male—a world where men are generally bigger and stronger and use their size to intimidate, manipulate and brutalize women. Not all men of course. But enough of them that we see fit to keep these protections and distinctions in place. At least we use to.
Today, males are colonizing our female language in order to penetrate our safe spaces, take our opportunities and prize money for themselves and appropriate our biological experiences. They are claiming our words as their own in a way that removes our boundaries and our ability to protect our bodies, our spaces and our sex-based rights. These words are not yours to give away.
This appropriation of our language and erasure of women's rights is not progressive. It is NOT pro-trans; it is ANTI-female, and it is a complete betrayal of women and girls. It’s colonialism. It’s patriarchy. It’s not okay.
Please use your position of power and influence at The New York Times to protect the rights of women and girls. As a lifelong liberal and a mom of a trans-identifying child, I understand the impulse to err on the side of what seems most “kind”. And yet, there is nothing kind about erasing women or telling young humans that they can change sex.
Beyond erasing the words we use to describe our condition, denying this fact leads to journalistic confusion. After all, Lia Thomas is not a “transgender female” as your story states. If it’s true that gender does not equal sex, it follows that a transgender female would refer to a female who identifies as a “transman”—like Iszac Henig of your story.
Please consider using more accurate and inclusive language that respects the unique experiences of women and girls. Please consider being honest, caring and respectful of our experiences. You can find some guidelines for how to talk about “trans” issues in respectful ways provided by Women’s Liberation Front here.
I still believe that there is hope for The New York Times. However, time is running out.
Once rights are given, they are rarely taken away. Once rights are taken away, they are rarely given back.
It may already be too late.
A deeply insulted liberal woman
Note: I am sure I have used the words introduced by brave feminists like Kellie-Jay Keen, Kara Dansky, JK Rowling, Carole Hooven, Beth Stelzer. Thank you for giving us the words to express what so many of us are feeling.
photo credit: Hannah Grace @oddityandgrace