Self-identity, gender, and pronouns: Using validating language in your copy

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By Impact Team

January 23, 2020

Nonprofits often want to empower those they serve — even with the words they put on the page.

Our client ACLU, for example, has published informational guides for using gender-neutral and nonbinary pronouns. And Philadelphia-based Bread & Roses does a lot of community work around social justice and self-identity.

But keeping up with the best, most current methods of using inclusive and validating language can feel daunting, especially when you’re new to the conversation.

One resource we love is the Radical Copyeditor blog. A self-described genderqueer, thirtysomething copyeditor from Wisconsin, the Radical Copyeditor (a.k.a. Alex Kapitan) believes that we who work in the progressive nonprofit space have “a responsibility to use language in ways that describe the world we are working to create, rather than unconsciously perpetuating bias and prejudice.”

And at Impact, we couldn’t agree more!

From samples of how to revise copy to be more validating to how (not) to use the word “diverse” (pro tip: it’s not a euphemism for person of color), the Radical Copyeditor blog has a lot of straightforward, practical tips on using language in ways that advance equity and inclusion.

But that’s not to say it’s a catch-all for how all language should be used in all situations. In their own words: “Radical copyediting isn’t about absolutes; it’s about context and care.” What it does, however, is offer insightful perspectives into how those contexts should be considered.

The reality is, we’re living in a post-style guide world. The rules are changing faster than anyone can codify them—and in order to keep up with the causes and people we serve, we must be intentional in when and how we shift our words.

The Radical Copyeditor's Style Guide for Writing about Transgender People
Should I Use the Adjective Diverse?

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