What is a trigger word? A trigger word, also known as a power word, is a word or phrase that evokes a certain emotion in the reader.
Trigger words can be either positive or negative. Examples of positive trigger words are:
• Free: everyone loves free stuff
• Amazing: especially if someone uses it in reference to you
• Everyone: makes you want to join the crowd.
And trigger words can also be negative, such as never, cruel, dangerous, prohibited …
Recently after performing my “Totally Gay” figure skating program (link to the 2 minute video) at a competition, an irate woman came up to me to tell me that she was offended with me shoving my agenda down her throat. Yep, she did it, used one of the stereotypical negative trigger words that are offensive to the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Plus) community.
Here is my list of seven negative anti-LGBTQ trigger words and phrases:
1) The one used by this irate woman … referring to my celebrating being a gay man as “my agenda.” Just being myself in not an agenda.
2) Referring to my being queer as “my lifestyle.” This is not my lifestyle, it is who I am. A person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is an inherit characteristic of a person like race and ethnicity. If you want to discuss lifestyle, then maybe watch old reruns of “The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” I thank Susie Silver of The Diversity Movement for providing this analogy.
3) Using the label “sexual preference” instead of sexual orientation. Sexual preference is often used by the far right to make the point that someone prefers to be gay or chooses to be gay. The medical and psychological scientific fields are practically unanimous in their findings that sexual orientation in an inherit characteristic; as Lady Gaga sang, “I was born this way.”
4) Using the language “normal man” / “normal woman” or “real man” / “real woman” to refer to someone who is not transgender, e.g cisgender. Nothing can be more insulting to transpeople than implying they are not real women nor men. Transwomen and transmen are real women and men legally and in all senses of the word.
5) Accusing queer people of demanding “special rights.” We never have asked for special rights; we want equal rights. As a tax paying American citizen, I deserve the same rights as straight cisgender Americans; the right to marry, the right to employment nondiscrimination, etc. Do read my sarcastic blog about what LGBTQ special rights would really entail.
6) Referring to LGBTQ+ people as sick or abnormal. The great diversity of the human family is something special that should be celebrated, and the wide range of sexual orientations and gender identities are a part of the normality of the diverse human race.
7) Equating gay with pedophilia. That same irate woman even asserted that the colors on the new progress flag (updated version of the pride flag that recognizes transpeople and LGBTQ+ people of color) celebrated pedophilia. This came from a horrific and disgusting false news story this past June on Fox News.
Please be careful to avoid these trigger words and phrases, and also please be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community by speaking out when you hear others use them.