I’ve asked this before but only a couple resources were mentioned. They aren’t teaching us this stuff in library school (or at least not when I was in class) and so I’m wondering where librarians should be going to learn more. Language and vocabulary is always so key to generating dialogue and…
I’m thinking about how this question has to be a starting point. Language is important, but it always comes with a history and a context. It’s not just about knowing the right words, it’s about understanding where those words come from, and why they’ve been chosen.
And of course, language is not monolithic. Not all people in any given group choose the same words (or recognize themselves as part of the same group). So, ask people what language they prefer. Or let them lead the conversation, and follow the language they’re using.
GLAAD created an Ally’s Guide to Terminology (pdf), which is a good starting place, if sparse. But it frames the question in terms of language for allies to use, which I appreciate. Finding the “right” language isn’t about being an insider to the group.
The LGBT Center at UW-Madison made this helpful gender pronouns guide (pdf). Cultural centers are a great place to see how language is being used in a community — go to a few events, listen to speakers, look at handouts and posters, and you’ll get the richness of language in context.
For actually what people are using themselves, heath-bear said zines, which I totally agree with, and lots of folks have been saying Tumblr. Follow blogs where people talk about the identities you want to learn about. There are also projects like the Trans Oral History Project, where you can hear people talking about their experiences.
There’s a subtext in this question, too…that it is possible to use the “wrong” language, or the “right” words in the wrong way. I do this *all the time*. It’s part of communicating! The important thing is to keep talking: to make a genuine apology, listen, and learn.