Quick Hit: Oxford English Dictionary Adds “Gender Reassignment” in June 2011 Update

This month, the Oxford English Dictionary added over 1,800 new or revised words including gender reassignment (noun).  They define “gender reassignment” as:

The process or an instance of a person adopting the physical characteristics of the opposite sex by means of medical procedures such as surgery or hormone treatment.

The Oxford English Dictionary periodically adds and revises words or terms after they have gained mainstream use:

The OED requires several independent examples of the word being used, and also evidence that the word has been in use for a reasonable amount of time. The exact time-span and number of examples may vary: for instance, one word may be included on the evidence of only a few examples, spread out over a long period of time, while another may gather momentum very quickly, resulting in a wide range of evidence in a shorter space of time.

While not everyone agrees with the definition, adding the term reflects a shift in social and cultural attitudes towards gender identity and transgender people.

It’s most important to remember that gender transitions do not always include “medical procedures” like surgery or hormone therapy. Transitioning, depending on the person, access to resources to cover the costs, and the recommendation of doctors, may include changing one’s name and legal documents.  According to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH),  gender reassignment is a very individual process that may or may not involve various specific interventions such as hormones or medical procedures.

Read more here, or see the full list of added words.

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