‘Man’ and ‘woman’ redefined: Is Cambridge Dictionary right?


Fact Box

  • The Cambridge Dictionary recently added to the original definition of “woman” which was “an adult female human being,” to include “an adult who lives and identifies as female though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth.” Similar changes were implemented for the definition of “man.”
  • A spokesman for Cambridge Dictionary asserted, “Our editors made this addition [in October]. They carefully studied usage patterns of the word ‘woman’ and concluded that this definition is one that learners of English should be aware of to support their understanding of how the language is used.” 
  • Conservatives critiqued the change as supporting the “leftist agenda” and as being “highly harmful and inaccurate.”
  • Pew Research Center reported in a February 2022 poll that 38% of American adults say that “greater acceptance of people who are transgender is generally good for our society, while 32% say it is bad and 29% say it is neither good nor bad.”

Stephanie (Yes)

The Cambridge Dictionary recently changed the definitions of 'man' and 'woman' to include people who identify in ways that might not match their sex at birth. Although this move might seem slightly controversial, the change is backed by logic.  

How people use words can often change their meanings. One example of a word that has changed its meaning drastically over time is 'girl.' In middle English, 'girl' was used to refer to any child, male or female. As early as a few hundred years ago, it was commonplace to refer to young men as 'girls.' However, through the way in which the word has been used over the centuries, it became synonymous with only young women. 

Further, the purpose of changing the definition of 'man' and 'woman' is simply to include those who identify and live a different gender than assigned at birth. Society is slowly becoming more inclusive toward transgender people--such as allowing trans people to change the sex on their driver's license or birth certificate. Using language is one way society can show inclusion to people living through the transgender experience. 

Sex and gender have long been known to be different categories; someone can occupy a sex that does not necessarily match their presenting gender. This is true for more than just trans people, such as children born intersex or people with chromosome disorders. While many people might not technically match their sex at birth, they clearly present their gender in a defined way. 

Changing the definition of man and woman in the dictionary serves common societal and evolutionary purposes. Although respecting trans identities is essential, they are not the only people who fall within the new definition. 

Suzanne (No)

The Cambridge Dictionary defines 'erasure' as 'the act of removing or destroying something.' Ironically, this is precisely what the dictionary has done by amending its definitions of 'woman' and 'man' to include the opposite sex. By saying that a woman is anyone who 'lives and identifies as female,' the dictionary effectually eradicates all distinctions between men and women. These altered definitions completely contradict truth, logic, and science, reconfirming how gender ideology is filled with contradictions and inconsistencies.

A definition cannot be one thing and its opposite simultaneously. Just as it's wrong to redefine 'fire' to include features of 'ice,' it's also incorrect and illogical for Cambridge to have 'woman' mean someone who has a 'different sex at birth.' Different from what? From woman. So what is a woman then if it also includes another sex? Looking to 'female,' defined as 'a woman or girl,' only furthers the circular reasoning. 

What is a cat if a cat is something that 'lives and identifies' as a cat? A coherent definition still has yet to be provided. If a person dawns faux furry ears and a tail, does that make them a cat? Similarly, men who imitate women by wearing heels, makeup, and dresses, having long hair, and even surgically altering their bodies to appear more feminine are not literally made women. This is a dangerous, painful lie to perpetuate in society. 

Women are a scientifically distinct biological category possessing natural abilities, such as menstruating and childbearing. Ignoring these natural differences even erases the notion of trans itself—as there is no objective category for one to identify with if no sexual binary exists. Thankfully, refusing to acknowledge the truth doesn't make it disappear; women remain, and men are not women.

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