Facebook, Grammar, and Caitlyn Jenner

By yesterday afternoon, my Facebook and Twitter feeds were full of posts about the lovely and courageous Caitlyn Jenner. Mostly using words that mirrored my own thoughts — lovely, courageous, brave, beautiful, strong, etc.

All screen captures from FB -- names removed for privacy when necessary.
All screen captures from FB — names removed for privacy when necessary.

But there were a couple that did not. A couple that were derogatory, bigoted, hateful.

(Those I will absolutely not repeat nor re-post. Not here. Not anywhere else.)

Besides the general attitude of the posts, I noticed another difference that really stuck out to me — the grammar. The grammar was 100% better 100% of the time in the positive posts.

Is my feed biased? Oh, totes ma-goats. It’s bound to be chock-full of over-educated, grammar-enthused, open-minded nerds. It’s normal to cluster amongst like-minded people, I think. It was just something interesting that I noticed. That somehow misuse of their/they’re/there and its/it’s and except/accept, etc, tended to cluster with the posts full of anger and disgust and a basic disrespect for the humanity of one very famous woman who has made a brave and difficult choice to show the public who she really is.

I get that’s it’s Facebook. And I get that even on my own blog, my own feed, my own space, I am rarely grammatically perfect. But the one thing I strive to never be, in any of these spaces, is close-minded. And why is that? Why do I have that going for me? Should I be thanking my parents? My education? My privilege in general?

I don’t know. Kind of a big question. And as much as I’d love to explore it, I’m not really sure where to go. Or how best to respond to instances in which I note disrespect, injustice, and the like.

So I fall back on something I latched onto a while ago: Promote what you love rather than bashing what you hate.

I love open-mindedness. Acceptance. The freedom of individuals to express their gender anywhere on the continuum, without conforming to the societal dichotomy of male (rawr!) and female (meow…)

I love celebration of courage and bravery. I love when people share their stories, their struggles. I love watching a family love and accept each other no matter their differences.

I love that we live in a time and place that allows a transgender woman like Caitlyn Jenner to be open and honest. Where a show like Transparent can be not just aired, but also adored. (Have you seen it? A-ma-zing.) Where this powerful message of courage and hope can be transmitted times a million via news media and social media and word of mouth to thousands and millions of other transgender individuals that currently live in fear or confusion. And perhaps even more importantly, to their friends and families who really just want to love them, for the person they are, male, female, or anywhere in between.


Yes, this world is a hard place too. There is fear and hate and anger. There are bad things. Bad things that happen to good people and some genuinely bad apples looking for trouble. But, you guys, what I saw yesterday… so… much… love! And so much progress! Even just in my relatively short lifetime. (I said relatively!) It’s a good, good thing. It’s hard not to be moved by the type of courage Caitlyn Jenner has shown us all. Or Jeffrey Tambor. Or even sweet Leelah Alcorn, rest her soul. Each in their own way.


PS: One of the best things I read yesterday was an article in which GLAAD provided tips for the media on transgender terminology — it was so enlightening and definitely worth the read. (I was definitely misusing the -ed ending!!) If you happen to notices any mistakes in the language I used above, please rest assured that 1) it is not intentional and 2) if you point it out to me, I will gladly change it. Or should I say GLAADly???

Oy. Bad pun. Can’t help myself.

6 thoughts on “Facebook, Grammar, and Caitlyn Jenner

  1. First of all, I’m crying over here! Speaking as a member of the GLBT(etc) community, it’s not every day that you can feel so much love and acceptance. You truly turned a horrible day into something beautiful. Thank you. Secondly, I wanted to say that I have also noticed a change in grammar when people talk about hate from an angry place and love from a lovely place. Maybe you’re on to something there! And lastly, as I read your article, I cried more every time I read “she” instead of “he” or “he/she” or even “it” (like some of the other posts I have read). When you said transgender, I was like “YESSS!!! She gets it! Transgender is not a verb!” You did everything so beautifully correct. And then, I get to the bottom and you even did research so you wouldn’t offend anyone (at least intentionally). You are such a beautiful person Rachel. So, so beautiful. I’m very thankful that I know you and that we are friends.

    1. Dang, thanks, Nicole… I feel honestly thrilled that my writing on this topic is up to your standards! Thrilled!

      Although… I’m reminded……. I’m currently listening to the Orange is the New Black audiobook and I’ve been thinking a lot about how even the smallest act of basic human decency gets super overly celebrated by the prisoners in the book simply for the reason that almost everyone in “control” is a huge dick the majority of the time. And that’s how I feel about this topic. I’m not saying anything that everyone shouldn’t be saying. People are people. Period. No matter their color or their gender or their sexuality or religion or language or culture or ability or whatever. Every human, no matter what, deserves our respect. The fact that acting respectfully toward GLBT(etc) individuals (I love that so much, the little extra etc, btw) gets applause makes me feel so so so sad, because it means we still have SO much work to do. So so so much.

      It’s the perfect example of privilege. I’m white, straight, cisgender, middle class, educated, etc. I don’t have any inkling of what it’s really like to live in a world where I’m treated as less simply because of who I am. I can get mad when people say “he/she” or “it” (it makes my blood BOIL), but it’s not personal… just injustice… if that makes any sense.

      Anyway, I’m rambling, basically I just mean to say thanks so much for your kind words. I’m so glad everyday that I know you. As my sister would say, because curls rule: raise the roots (while lifting hair with the raise the roof hand motion). <3 <3 <3

  2. Your auntie is proud of the woman you are, Miz fancy-grammar-pants, nieceling of mine. As Tegan points out to me, as hard as I try, I don’t always get the language right, but it’s good enough that I consciously try and am willing to learn.

    1. Tegan was in my heart on this one, to be sure. Tegan at my wedding. Tegan and Grandpa at my wedding. Love love love. That’s what family is all about. And I have such a beautiful family.

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