Communication, in any form, is necessary for human interaction. It is how we function individually, with each other, on a daily basis. Relationships rely on communication to prosper. The biblical story of Babel tells of how the inability to communicate destroyed a city. But what exactly are we communicating and how can we be mindful of it?

All too often, I see arguments crop up on any social media platform I find myself on. Nine times out of ten, these arguments are about language and word choice. Some may it see it as "policing" what others say while some may see it simply as a sign of the times.

Language matters, not just because it's 2018, not because I'm "politically correct", not because "everything's offensive these days", but simply because it does. The words that we choose carry weight, whether we realize it or not and it is crucial to take a step back and be mindful of what we say.

Intention matters, let's begin there. The intent behind what you say is very important but it is certainly not something that can be used to hide behind if confronted about what you say. Marginalized groups that bear the brunt of harmful slurs have spent time and emotional and intellectual labor detailing the importance of language based on their experiences and it is not your job to tell them what does and does not offend them.

If you are an able-bodied person, you do not get to decide that slurs aimed at disabled folks are not offensive or harmful. You and I have likely never experienced (and never will) the intention behind that slur. You don't get to dictate language in that way, but you can decide how you choose to use it from here on out.

Oftentimes, it is most people's first reaction to get defensive when somebody shares with them that a particular word or phrase is harmful to one community or another. It is deemed a personal attack on my freedom of speech, how dare they! Sorry to break it to you, but, no, it's not. It's not that these words are suddenly offensive, it's that now your concept of x is being challenged. It should be seen as an opportunity to learn rather than a blatant attack on your (bigoted) speech.

Slurs thrown at transgender individuals are offensive, they always have been, regardless of the fact that "everyone else was saying it." They've always been offensive, but no one has challenged your view of gender and sexuality until this moment. It's about learning and unlearning. It is not just now, it always has been. Take a moment before you speak, listen to those who may have more knowledge on this subject, re-evaluate the words that you use, take the harm out of your speech.