Ask a Radical Copyeditor: Are There Limits to Self-Identity Language?

This post really opened my eyes to how people expect to be treated. I always wondered if it was ok to call someone a tranny or queer etc. (being that some individuals don’t prefer the context of either term). Now I know, they will tell you if it is ok and we shouldn’t automatically assume that we have the right to call them whatever we want.

Radical Copyeditor

Agency and identityFull image description.

Are There Limits to Self-Identity Language?

Q: In response to your piece about person-centered language, my mind goes to difficult situations where I’ve interacted with marginalized people who use/identify comfortably with terms I understand to be oppressive, e.g., a trans woman using the term “tranny.”

In another more privileged direction, I’ve interacted with people who don’t identify with the term “cis” despite being cis, and have heard members of oppressed groups say, “you don’t get to choose not to be cis.”

So I guess my internal query is, how far does the agency of one’s identity go? And does language that marginalizes an oppressed group supersede the desire of an individual in their expression of identity through language?

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