The Merriam-Webster dictionary has updated its definition of “trans woman” to “woman who was identified as male at birth.”
The U.S. dictionary has appeared to modify its definition of “trans woman,” which had been defined as “an adult who was born male but whose gender identity is female.” The updated definition largely ignores the basic biological makeup of the individual, defining a trans woman as “a woman who was identified as male at birth.”
Notably, the new definition conflicts with the dictionary’s official description of “woman,” which is defined as “an adult female person.” Merriam-Webster defines “female” as “of, relating to, or being the sex that typically has the capacity to bear young or produce eggs” — a function a trans woman is, biologically, incapable of.
Similarly, “trans man” is currently defined by Merriam-Webster as “a man who was identified as female at birth,” and the same logical sequence prevails. A “man” is defined as “an adult male human,” and “male” is defined as “an individual of the sex that is typically capable of producing small, usually motile gametes (such as sperm or spermatozoa) which fertilize the eggs of a female” — another function biological females, or those who would identify as a “trans man” — are not able to do biologically.
Merriam-Webster made waves last month after changing its definition of “racism” after a black woman, Kennedy Mitchum, contacted them with the proposal.
“I basically told them that they need to include that there’s a systematic oppression upon a group of people,” she told CBS affiliate KMOV. “It’s not just, ‘Oh, I don’t like someone’”:
Merriam-Webster’s editorial manager Peter Sokolowski confirmed to AFP that the definition would be modified after Mitchum’s request.
The dictionary currently offers three definitions of racism, and Sokolowski said that the second definition touches on Mitchum’s point — but that “we will make that even more clear in our next release”.
In the current version of the second definition, racism is “a doctrine or political program based on the assumption of racism and designed to execute its principles,” and “a political or social system founded on racism.”
The first definition of “racism” now reads, “A belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”