Some Nigerian education regulatory agencies have reacted to the recent inclusion of transgender people in the definition of man and woman by the Cambridge Dictionary.
The Cambridge dictionary now recognises transgender men as men and transwomen as women in its dictionary.
Previously, the dictionary defined both sexes simply by their biological composition. But now, the dictionary defines a man as “an adult male human being,” adding “[a man is] an adult who lives and identifies as a male though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth.”
“[A woman is] an adult who lives and identifies as female though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth,” the dictionary stated in the definition of a woman.
While it is unclear when Cambridge made the modifications, the additions were observed on Wednesday.
A review of other widely accepted dictionaries such as Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster Dictionary showed their definitions had not been modified as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.
But Cambridge’s modifications did not meet the favour of Nigerian education regulatory agencies such as the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) which regulates the activities and certification of teachers, and the National Education Research and Development Council (NERDC), which regulates the curriculum and books used in Nigerian schools.
TRCN boss rejects new definition
The TRCN Registrar, Josiah Ajiboye, a professor, rejected the new addition, describing it as a euro-centric or western definition.
He insisted that the definition of both sexes remains biological in the Nigerian context as recognised by the Nigerian Constitution.
“…Nigerians should stick to their own definition of what a male person and a female is, and we should not be lured into other people’s definition because this euro-centric academic imposition is going to affect our children,” he said in a telephone interview with our reporter on Wednesday.
“So, I think Nigerians should stick to their own definition based on the constitution of Nigeria, based on the laws of our country. The laws of our country actually prohibit homosexuality and all this kind of things.”
Mr Ajiboye, therefore, called on Nigerian educators to stick with the ‘original’ definition of man and woman and urge them to jettison the new additions to the Cambridge dictionary.
He said: “We encourage Nigerians and the teachers –both teachers and learners– to stick with the laws of our lands and to stick with the Nigerian definition of who a male child is and who a female child is because this euro-centrism or western definition may not help our children and so our children and our learners and our teachers should stick to the original definition of who a male child is an who a female child is.
“This strange orientation should not be brought into our educational system. We don’t want our children to be lured into this. This is the problem of some other people and we don’t want to share what their problem is. We have enough problems confronting our education system already. We should not be lured into the challenges other people are creating for themselves. So, Nigerian teachers and Nigerian educators should stick to the original definition of who a male child is and who a female child is.”
“It will not go through”
Meanwhile, a senior official at the NERDC said it is simply impossible that the Commission will allow the use of such definitions for sexes in Nigerian schools.
The official, who preferred not to be named for lacking the authority to speak on the matter, said there is no official response from the NERDC and as such they are not mandated to speak on it.
The official who spoke to our reporter on the phone said all books are reviewed by the commission before they are used by schools.
“By our own assessment criteria, that will not go through with us obviously,” the official stated.
They added that the Nigerian Constitution recognises man and woman only by their biological composition.
The official, who attributed transgender to homosexuality, noted that the act has already been criminalised by legislation.
“If you look at everything in our Constitution and the law by the National Assembly, it is very clear about the issue of man and woman. And that is based on biological characterisation.
“So, whatever Cambridge is doing is not about us, it’s about them,” the official added.
What Nigerian law says about transgender
In Nigeria, a 2014 legislation, the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, criminalises homosexuality and prescribed a 14-year jail term for offenders.
The Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act does not explicitly mention or recognise transgender people.
However, since Transgender humans usually prefer to engage in sexual relations with people of their own (previous) sex, which is not recognised, they risk being jailed under the law.
Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on 1-covered issues around the globe
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