Evangelical speak (or EV speak) contains some important pitfalls that
trans people must be sure to avoid when speaking to evangelicals. Here
lies an extremely important tool that the Church has used to win
arguments without even having them: demonize just the words and the
ideas become irrelevant. It's all about connotation. If the connotation
is strong enough, the actual meaning will inherit the connotation
regardless of merit.
A prime example is "Democrat." When I was young, I didn't know what Democrats were, but I knew they were bad. They were connected with homosexuality and abortion and that was enough. Whenever someone mentioned them, it was in a negative context. I don't know if I ever heard of the Democrats helping the lower class or limiting the military - I probably did - but it sure didn't make a difference on my thinking. I'm 24, I've only voted Democrat, I live in an all Democrat city, and I still have those connotations sticking.
You might say this is all semantics. Yes, it is. Semantics are powerful and we need to stay from harmful side of them. So, here are some words to get out in the open and realize the negative connotations they have in EV speak and how we can deal with them.
Activist/activism & agenda - the subtle meaning here is manipulation. Activists are people working to expand evil ideas, their agenda, using evil methods. Their actions are conspiratory - they hide their true faces and don't show how they accomplish their ends. Fear is a big proponent; you must fear what you don't understand. My estimation is that they don't understand trans people or the people support us, so they assume immoral or irrational methods are the only possibility.
Lobby - a lobby is a group that uses money and clout to sway government officials to act in their favor in. I personally hate lobbiests; they give a disproportionate amount of power to those companys, special interest groups, and "Christian" value groups who already have power. While the ends doesn't justify the means, they have done good things for the trans community which the Church believes has hurt them. Avoid talking about trans lobbyists completely. If someone else brings them up, match them by talking about evangelical lobbiests that fight against trans rights. "Does your church donate to Focus on the Family or buy their content? You're supporting lobbiests."
Feminism - This is most amazing to me. Feminism fought (and fights) to bring the same rights from men to women. It enabled women to vote, attend college, earn a decent wage in a decent job position (saving many from sex work), allowed them to enjoy sex and say no to their partners when they don't want it (ie, rape), makes their opinion (almost) as valid as a man's. and saves them from all the housework. But still, the Church treats feminism like it did in the 1950s! In EV speak, feminism is lesbians + sexual promiscuity + abortions + divorce + destroying the created order or marriage. Ignore this naughty word, but call a spade a spade: if you don't hold feminist ideals, you're sexist. Feminism believes all sexes are equal; sexism believes one sex is better than the other.
Transvestite - I don't know why, but "vest"
just sound negative. Most cross dressers prefer the term "cross dresser"
as well. If the people you talk to are at least respectful, tell them
the word is insulting and disrespectful and they may use it less.
Historically, "transvestite" includes a fetish clothing but this is not
true of all cross dressers and it's better not to stereotype them all.
Pronounced homoeSEXual. The Church still isn't comfortable talking
about sex period, so anything with the word "sex" automatically makes
them uneasy. Besides, EVs love to think that homosexuality is all about
sex - AIDS, prostitutes, gay bars, and all the Freudian stuff about
sexual attraction to your mother. In ex-gay ministries, gays are taught
not to think about themselves as homosexuals but as people with "same
sex attractions." Meanwhile, evil sex is not a part of the straight
person's world; they have crushes, they fall in love, they're attracted
to non-sexual things like sense of humor and values. Turn this on its
head - only refer to straights as hterosexuals. Pronounced
"heteroSEXuals." Refer to lesbians and gays as "lesbians" and "gays."
Avoid "homosexuality" altogether. Instead of "what do you think about
homosexuality?" try "what do you think about lesbians and gays?" Some
lesbians and gays don't like the word either, believing the connotation
is too medical, so ask Christians to stop.
Transexual - Again
with the sex, even tho "sex" is referring to organs. This is the only
fully accurate word, but you can be creative. If the context allows,
simply use "transgender." Otherwise you use things like "FtM," "people
who fully transition," "post op," etc. Don't get anal, just do what you
can. Try pronouncing it "TRANsexual."
Transphobia, homophobia & heterosexism
- These words are tricky because they are powerful words the queer
community invented to disarm our opponents. EVs have now realized it
and are whining that they've lost. This is hypocritical, but it's
partly true. Let's not use the same bad tactics others use against us.
Use these words, but only use them appropriately. "I don't want you
around my girls because you'll make them boys." This is an irrational
fear, but explain why it's irrational before insulting them. If they
don't let go, politely explain that their attitude (not themself) is
transphobic. Some even complain about "heterosexism." Explain that it
means "someone who believes heterSEXuality is better than other sexual
orientations and that heterosexuality is the norm." Be firm, but also
know when to let go.
There are two ways to neutralize the defects of EV speak. When speaking about yourself or your cause, ignore them. It's hard and you'll mess up a lot. While it's only necessary around evangelicals, I just avoid them everybody just for practice. Just like swearing, if you use them with your friends, you're bound to mess up with your grandma eventually.Secondly, reverse the evolution of language by doing the opposite of what evangelicals have done. Use the naughty words in a positive way. "Thank goodness of feminism or you'd have to do all this housework yourself." "Poverty should be a more prominent piece of the Church's agenda." "It was funny to see Lucy cross dressing in her dad's shoes and sport coat." Will this change the whole EV speak dialect? Nope, but it will change the people in your own life, and that's as much as each can do.