THE BLOG

Why Transphobia Needs A Place In The Dictionary

12/03/2013 14:10 GMT | Updated 12/05/2013 10:12 BST

"Transphobia" is not in the dictionary, yet words such as "homophobia" and "xenophobia" are. When writing the word "transphobia" into Microsoft Word, a dashed red line appears underneath to indicate a misspelling or made-up word. However, "transphobia" is in fact spelt correctly and the correct term to describe either a fear of or negative attitude towards transsexual or transgender people.

I founded GRIN campaign two years ago after reading about a series of young LGBT suicides in the US and UK. I had to stand up and take action. How was it that I could be exactly who I was, whilst so many young people were being denied the right to life because they were in some way different?

I set up GRIN Campaign to promote LGBT rights within education and eradicate homophobic and transphobic bullying. My dedicated team of teenaged volunteers and I have organised numerous campaigns and lead educational sessions across the world.

However, we have found that all too often in the fight for LGBT equality the transgender community is left behind. Lesbian, gay and bisexual rights are improving across the globe, yet the transgender community is still experiencing daily discrimination.

The transgender community has a lack of basic legal protection in many countries - an example of institutionalised transphobia. There are stories of horrific abuse published in the global media too regularly, and according to global statistics, a transgendered person was murdered on average every 72 hours. Transphobia exists in our society and it is impossible to ignore.

Last month, I started a Change.org petition to get the term "transphobia" added to the both the Oxford English Dictionary and Microsoft Office's dictionary lexicon. The petition gained 500 signatures in just five hours and now stands at over 9,000.

Including the term "transphobia" in the dictionary is not about accepting the horrible hate crimes that take place, it is about giving recognition to all those who go through a daily struggle because of the state of our society. It's about identifying the attitudes that deny the transgender community equality and respect. It will educate people about the stigma that transgender people face and prove that this vulnerable community is not invisible.

As a result of the campaign, Microsoft have agreed to make the change and will add the word to their dictionary when their next update comes out in May.

However, for a word to be entered into the Oxford English Dictionary it must have been used in academic writings for many years or be in common usage. As transphobia is regularly used in both these contexts I think it's time that it is recognised and hope that this petition will bring its omission to their attention.

The Oxford English Dictionary includes the derogatory term 'Chav', but it does not include a word used to describe the terrible prejudice faced by a whole section of society. Our petition aims to change this.

The terms that identify people and their life experiences deserve to be recognised. We must advocate the rights of the transgender community at this time of civil progression and make sure that no one gets left behind in the discrimination of the past.