The Cambridge Dictionary has recently updated its definitions of “woman” and “man” to include transgender people, making it the most recent dictionary to broaden what it means to be a woman.
A spokeswoman for the Cambridge Dictionary told The Washington Post on Tuesday that its editors “made this addition to the entry for ‘woman’ in October.”
“They carefully studied usage patterns of the word woman and concluded that this definition is one that learners of English should be aware of to support their understanding of how the language is used,” said Sophie White, a spokeswoman for Cambridge University Press and Assessment, in a statement to The Post, of the editors’ decision.
The long-standing definition of “woman, “An adult female human being”, is still present in the Cambridge entry and “remains unchanged,” according to White. However, another definition of the word appears below.
“An adult who lives and identifies as female despite having been told they were a different sex at birth,” it says.
Two examples of transgender people are included in the definition. “She was the first trans woman elected to a national office,” one example says. “Mary is a woman who was assigned male at birth,” says another example using the updated definition.
Additionally, the entry for “man” has been updated. “Mark is a trans man (a man who was said to be female when they were born)” and “Their doctor encouraged them to live as a man for a while before undergoing surgical transition” are two examples from the supplemental definition for “man.”
The sentiment was echoed by Laurel Powell, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization.
“Dictionaries do not define the languages that are used. “They explain how it is already being used widely,” she explained in an interview.
“We know there is a rising tide of acceptance of LGBTQ+ people broadly, and that’s certainly inclusive of trans people. You’re seeing a reflection of something that’s already widely accepted.”