Our Language is Constantly Evolving: Trans-inclusivity and BLNA

A note from the Reboot Representation team

Inclusion is at the core of Reboot Representation’s mission. Reboot values non-traditional tech professionals and strives to be allies to those who identify as such — in education, tech, and beyond. And, as we work toward increasing the number of Black, Latina, and Native American women in computing, we must be both inclusive in our actions and our language.

Language is an important element of inclusion from the classroom to the workplace and everywhere in between, and it’s ever-evolving.

The word “women” is inclusive of cis and transgender women, and we’ll use it as such.

First, let’s talk about trans-inclusivity. Reboot operates at the intersection of race and gender, and our explicit goal is to double the number of Black, Latina, and Native American women receiving computing degrees. We began to ask whether transgender women felt included in the wording of our mission.

While Reboot can most materially support transgender women through grantmaking that explicitly targets and supports them; we also know that our specific word choices have power and can impact the communities we serve.

BLNA women — Black, Latina, and Native American women — are Reboot’s grantees.

The Reboot Coalition was born out of research that looked at how companies most effectively use philanthropy to push the needle forward for women and girls in tech. This research uncovered that, despite stated intentions to support diversity, 32 tech companies had only dedicated 0.1% (or $335,000) of their $500M philanthropic dollars that year to fund programs for “underrepresented women of color.”

At the time, the term “underrepresented women of color” seemed like a helpful, concise way to acknowledge that some women of color (like East and South Asian women) were represented in the field while others (like Black, Latina, and Native American women) were not. We’ve come to see this term as more harmful than helpful.

More journalists and research reports increasingly use “underrepresented women of color” — including our own Rebooting Representation report; however, if the term is meant to refer to “Black, Latina, and Native American women,” why not just say that?

By not explicitly stating these three distinct groups, we run the risk of treating them as a monolith — not only does this further marginalize some groups, but it also fails to acknowledge the unique needs and barriers that each group faces.

We are committed to regularly examining our language.

Language changes and evolves constantly, and the words we use now may not be correct forever. We are committed to linguistic flexibility and fluidity, and we’ll continue to update our terminology to reflect what communities are saying.