Current Affairs

The Oxford English Dictionary now includes ambisexual, asexual, bi-gender and trans*

Josh Jackman April 3, 2018
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The a is for asexual

1.7 percent of sexual minority people in the US identify as asexual. (Robert Perry/ Getty)

The Oxford English Dictionary has added trans*, ambisexual, asexual and bi-gender to its lexicon.

Trans* is perhaps the most overdue addition, considering that the trans umbrella term has been in use for decades at this point.

The OED definition of trans* states that it was “originally used to include explicitly both transsexual and transgender, or (now usually) to indicate the inclusion of gender identities such as gender-fluid, agender, etc., alongside transsexual and transgender.”

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 23: Hundreds protest a Trump administration announcement this week that rescinds an Obama-era order allowing transgender students to use school bathrooms matching their gender identities, at the Stonewall Inn on February 23, 2017 in New York City. Activists and members of the transgender community gathered outside the historic LGTB bar to denounce the new policy. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Asexual is another word which has been in the public consciousness for a long while.

The Asexual Visibility and Education Network was founded in 2001, and the term originated years before then.

The OED defines the term as being “without sexual feelings or associations.”

Ambisexual is a less commonly used term, but has risen in popularity as a word for people who are, as the OED puts it, “bisexual or androgynous.”


And as the dictionary notes, the word originated in the 1930s, so it’s hardly a new fad.

According to the OED, bi-gender, another word added to the dictionary today, is “denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity encompasses two genders.”

Last year, Merriam-Webster revealed that back when homosexuality was illegal, trans rights were unheard of and gender was widely presumed to be completely binary, it was going against the grain.

Merriam-Webster’s unabridged dictionary of 1934 featured the gender-neutral pronoun “thon” – short for “that one” – and continued to include the word until 1961.

In an article on its site, the dictionary also gently rebuked those who make “one of the most common complaints” about English, pointing out gender-neutral pronouns exist in its pages.

Earlier this year, Japan’s leading dictionary added a definition of LGBT for the first time, but got it slightly wrong, defining the term as “people who have different sexual orientations from the majority.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 29: Gay couple Peter McGraith and David Cabreza leave Islington Town Hall after being married shortly after midnight in one of the UK's first same-sex weddings on March 29, 2014 in London, England. Same sex couples have been able to enter into 'civil partnerships' since 2005, however following a change in the law in July 2013 gay couples are now eligible to marry in England and Wales. A number of gay couples have arranged for their wedding ceremonies to take place shortly after midnight on March 29, 2014 to become some of the first to take advantage of the new law. Parliament's decision to grant same sex couples an equal right to marriage has been met with opposition from religious groups. Gay marriage is currently being debated in Scotland, however the Northern Ireland administration has no plans to make it law.  (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)

In 2013, after same-sex marriage was legalised in England and Wales, the OED changed the definition of the word ‘marriage’ to keep up with the new legislation.

It is now defined as “the legally or formally recognised union of two people as partners in a personal relationship.”

More: asexual, Oxford English Dictionary, Trans, UK

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