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“Cisgender” and “Genderqueer” Added to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary

by Beth Sherouse April 21, 2016

Merriam-Webster, the leading U.S. publisher of dictionaries, added “cisgender” and “genderqueer” to its lexicon yesterday, following a similar decision by the Oxford English Dictionary last year. The new definitions are:

  • Cisgender: of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth.
  • Genderqueer: of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity cannot be categorized as solely male or female.

Members of the LGBTQ community have used these terms for years, but Merriam-Webster adding them to such its widely used resource makes them accessible to a much wider audience. While plenty of definitions of these words are available online, Merriam-Webster’s status as a linguistic authority lends legitimacy to these terms. The move helps broadens public understanding of the increasing diversity of words that people within the LGBTQ community use to describe their identities.

In the HRC Foundation’s 2012 survey of LGBTQ youth, respondents used these terms and many more -- beyond lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender -- to describe their gender identities and sexual orientations.


Photo (c) Ane Cecilie Blichfeldt

Beth Sherouse
Beth Sherouse


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