With the exception of Choaspes (a proper noun and the name of a river flowing from what is now Iran to Iraq that was mentioned in a widely used Bible study text), every single one of these words has dominated the news (often political news) in recent weeks, according to the word trend-watchers over at Merriam Webster. The No. 1 trending word — transgender — leads the top 10 list because of a more than 630 percent spike in look-ups at MerriamWebster.com on Friday. That followed an announcement by the Obama administration that a letter would be sent to public schools issuing guidance on transgender access to school bathrooms.
To put a finer point on it, interest in the term has been growing for some time. On Nov. 3, when voters in Houston defeated a measure that would have banned a number of forms of discrimination in the workplace and public facilities, and included the option for transgender individuals to use the public restrooms of their choice, searches for the term climbed 70 percent. The following day, when the measure's failure was national news, look-ups surged 69 percent. Between April 20 and 30, after news that the Oxford, Ala., City Council planned to and then did approve a measure that would criminalize transgender people's use of public bathrooms that do not correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificate a crime, look-ups spiked an average of 141 percent each day.
So, there you have it. Americans are paying attention.