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...


...transgenders were...


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


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".

| improve this answer | |
  • 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

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.