2SLGBTQI+ is not an acronym

The Hamilton Spectator

Deirdre Pike The Hamilton Spectator Fri., Sept. 9, 2022

It is not enough, and it took too long. These are two inevitable responses to government funding announcements by people advocating for change, especially for equity-deserving groups.

I have been heard uttering the same phrases after people and issues are left out of budgets completely, or inadequate declarations of financial support are mouthed by elected governments of all stripes. Of course, it should have happened decades ago or even over a century ago now, and it can never be enough.

Similar comments of discontent have been heard after the funding of Canada’s first Federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan, was revealed during Ottawa Pride at the end of August. Happy Pride, indeed!

While the original intent of the government was to have this out within its first 100 days in office, I don’t think the impact of $100 million over five years can easily be called measly, even when a few months late.

Described as “historic,” not only by the government but by Xtra, an online LGBTQ2S+ magazine, 75 per cent of the money will go directly to community-based organizations centred on diversity and inclusion work across Canada.

In fact, Xtra reported this investment measures up to more than some other diversity and inclusion initiatives, such as $85 million toward Canada’s new Anti-Racism Strategy and National Action Plan on Combating Hate. (Xtra has a lot of street cred, covering Queer and Trans news in Ontario, Canada, and beyond, for over 50 years, originally as a print newspaper.)

The 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan is definitely a historic first in Canada, as Marci Ien, minister of Women and Gender Equality and Youth, points out and under whose ministry the plan is to be implemented.

While I want to be sure the funding is historic in its sufficiency, sustainability, and equitable distribution, I have another concern which may seem trite in comparison but stands out quite problematically to logophiles and other word lovers like me.

A pre-emptive section before one digs into the action plan sets out to explain to the reader why the letters and symbol, 2SLGBTQI+, are being used. The section is called a “Note on Acronyms.”

How would you pronounce the word, 2SLGBTQI+? Not a word, you say? Correct.

An acronym, by definition, is an abbreviation pronounced as a word. Take, for example, scuba diving. ‘Scuba’ is a word created out of the first letters of each of the words, “self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.” Did you know laser is an acronym created from the words, “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation?”

Ergo, 2SLGBTQI+, is not an acronym but an initialism, that is, an abbreviation of letters pronounced individually. Now that I have outed that pet peeve, the letters themselves are important to breakdown.

According to the action plan and other places on the government website, ensuring “2S” is first in the initialism, is an important “acknowledgement of Two Spirit Indigenous people [who] were the first sexual and gender minority people in North America.”

Adding the “I” is with intention to include Intersex people, an umbrella term meaning a person whose chromosomal, hormonal or anatomical sex characteristics fall outside the conventional classifications of male or female. This is something the government decided to adopt after consultations through 25,000 surveys and follow up focus groups, and advocacy from groups like Egale.

The plus sign is inclusive of people who connect to or identify with one or more of at least 50 additional minority sexual orientations and genders.

The action plan includes a really thorough glossary of terms to assist with filling in the plus sign and other questions people may have.

For example, I like how it stresses the word “homosexual,” is no longer commonly used in English, due to its historic connection to same-sex attraction as a mental illness.

It’s never enough and it could have been here sooner but let’s get spending these dollars ASAP on Canada’s 2SLGBTQI+ community of communities.

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