Person-First Language

It can change our perceptions and others’

The world is complex. Language is hard to perfect. Life and politics are ever-evolving. It can be difficult to master being an expert of equality and correctness, and sometimes we may not even notice our own biases and how those perceptions may affect how we interact with others.

But a person’s a person, no matter what.

Our perceptions, and how we speak to and about others, can change how they view themselves and how others, in turn, view those you speak about and you in your own right.

I sat in on a medical forum discussing immigration and the effects of recent legislation, including how immigration and healthcare interact. One of the speaker spoke to how undocumented immigrants are often called “illegals” in the media, almost always in a derogatory, pejorative fashion. People still use “queer” or “gay” as pejoratives, as well. “Disabled” or “crippled” or “mentally challenged” — people are more than just the terms we label them.

Instead of using slang and focusing on our differences, the speaker challenged us to focus on the fact that any person is a ‘person first.’ He challenged us to acknowledge our words and how building self-respect and motivation in others can help brighten the world and lift up our communities. I challenge you to analyze your thought patterns as well, striving to see everyone as a person first.

A person who is gay. Not a “gay”.

A person who is disabled. Not “the disabled”

A person who this or that. Not a person defined by any single characteristic of their being.

Strive to be empathetic, to see people as more than our differences, or simply one characteristic or another. Strive for inclusion, acceptance, and temperance. Strive to better yourself and those around you, and change even one person’s life for the better.