Johns Hopkins University Blasted For Redefining ‘Lesbian’ To Exclude Women

A research university has changed a decision it made after its try at inclusivity towards non-binary individuals backfired. The controversy began when John Hopkins University updated its LGBTQ Glossary to change the definition of “lesbian” to include non-binary people.

The updated definition stated that “lesbian” now refers to a “non-man attracted to non-men.” The school’s website stated that while past definitions refer to “lesbian” as a woman who is attracted to other women, “this updated definition includes non-binary people who may also identify with the label.” 

This change caused a stir among critics, with notable figures like J.K. Rowling expressing their concerns.

Rowling, known for her views on transgender issues, voiced her disagreement with the new definition, particularly the removal of the word “woman.” Taking to Twitter, she expressed her thoughts on the matter, saying, “Man: no definition needed. Non-man (formerly known as woman): a being definable only by reference to the male. An absence, a vacuum where there’s no man-ness.”

Rowling’s sentiment was echoed by others on social media who believed that John Hopkins’ revised definition effectively marginalized and erased the identity of women by referring to them as “non-men.”

Critics also pointed out the university’s inconsistency in updating the definition of “lesbian” while neglecting to extend the same terminology to “gay men, who remained “men.”

Following the outcry, Johns Hopkins University swiftly removed the LGBTQ Glossary from its website. In its place, a statement addressing the backlash and the institution’s commitment to better defining the LGBTQ community was published.

“Upon becoming aware of the language in question, we have begun working to determine the origin and context of the glossary’s definitions. We have removed the page from our website while we gather more information,” the statement reads.

John Hopkins’ attempted redefinition took a different turn from other notable glossaries such as those of the Human Rights Campaign and the Anti-Defamation League.

The Human Rights Campaign defines a lesbian as “a woman” who is attracted to other women while the Anti-Defamation League’s glossary states that a lesbian is a “woman who is emotionally, physically, and/or romantically attracted to some other women.”