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When a word (for example 'transgender') is classified by a dictionary (for example Merriam-Webster) just as adjective and not as noun, how bad is it to use it as a noun?

Does this sentence fragment make sense?

Discrimination of transgenders...

or

...transgenders were...

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It makes sense (except that I would say "discrimination against" rather than "discrimination of").

This sort of nominalisation quite often occurs and is easy to understand.

However, you have to be a bit careful. Referring to (for example) "gays" or "blacks" can come across as offensive. The preferred usage is adjectival ("gay people", "black people").

From dictionary.com:

gay noun 10. Sometimes Offensive. a homosexual person, especially a male

and:

black noun 21.b. Often Offensive. African-American.

No such usage notes are attached to the adjectival uses.

I'm guessing that transgender people would prefer to be called "transgender people" (or "people who are transgender") rather than "transgenders".

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  • I think the warning should be made stronger. Using "transgenders" as a noun is offensive and even though understandable, should not be done. – James K Jul 31 '18 at 20:05

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