Inclusive language in Observant

Inclusive language in Observant

Feminists of Maastricht: "We advocate an inclusive understanding of gender"

09-11-2021 · Submitted letter

In April 2021 Feminists of Maastricht (FOM) received a Diversity & Inclusivity (D&I) Grant to provide free menstrual products to all faculties at UM. The project aimed to be consciously inclusive of women, transgender men, and non-binary people by not specifying the gender of the product user; we sought to ensure that all people who menstruate at UM would have access to these.

We were pleased that the Observant devoted an article to this project. However, we were unpleasantly surprised to see that neither this article nor the Observant’s editors follow FoM’s gender-inclusive approach, but instead state that menstrual products are for women only. Along with the Centre for Gender and Diversity at FASoS (CGD) and D&I Office, we object to how this non-inclusive language erases the experiences of those who are not women and menstruate, such as non-binary, trans, and intersex people.

We were also surprised to see a passage from a private email published in an editorial one week later without our consent. This passage was taken out of the context of a long email exchange, and it came to the simplistic conclusion that we are supporters of censorship. This is ethically dubious at best: we imagine that this falls into that category of “journalistic sins” that no “self-respecting journalist” should commit.

The editorial mentioned a presumed “discussion in the gender field that has not yet crystallised into generally accepted conclusions”. We want to assure all readers that neither FOM, nor the D&I or CGD will ever engage in a “discussion” that takes the denial of anyone’s gender identity as its starting point. We advocate an inclusive understanding of gender that does not discriminate against those who do not adhere to cis-normative and patriarchal standards of gender.

It all boils down to whether the editors of the Observant are willing to use inclusive language to steer free from sexism, racism, classism, ageism, ableism, homo- and transphobia to the best of their ability. We assume that such efforts would be beneficial, given that the Observant’s mandate is to be the independent press for the whole UM community.


Author: Redactie

Illustration: Pixabay

Categories: Letters
Tags: feminists of maastricht,inclusivity,diversity

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