The reclamation of words

A necessary part of a revolution

Emmanuel Lomax

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By Tito Texidor III on Unsplash

When a group becomes empowered, starts claiming and fighting for their rights; for their ability to exist in their fullness. Part of that process includes reclamation. Wresting the words, actions and slogans used against them and claiming them for themselves.

Now, I’m not too old, but for some reason one clear childhood memory I have was me using the word ‘queer’, and feeling smug that my little friends did not understand what it meant.

I defined it as ‘well, it kind of means strange or weird or something’, and it was a staple of mine, though I was lucky enough to have a childhood where I needn’t use that word too much.

One day out of the blue, “queer”, my secret word, the word I used sparingly and with great flare had become known to it everyone and belonged to a group I did not fit in with. Don’t worry, this isn’t a piece mourning the fact I can’t use that word anymore, more of an example of how quickly groups can find belonging in and spread their message using words once used to harm or disparage them.

Now this might be a bit of a stretch, but stick with me here. Part of the struggle for the trans community is that they have no words. Speechless.

The insults levied against them I can’t quite see them co-opting, and whilst sticks and stones may break your bones, words are a vehicle. Without a vehicle, how can you start a drive?

I wanted to end there, but to give an example, the main point of call I see trans using online is ‘we just want to exist’, and that’s fair, that’s the bare minimum, but it isn’t strong. As some may say; ‘Them ain’t fighting words’.

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Emmanuel Lomax

Amateur writer with a love for discussion and languages. Currently learning and bettering myself. Slowly.