the one thing that has stuck with me every day since my English teacher told me it in middle school is:
"When referring to someone, always say who they are before anything else about them, because being a person always comes first"
Instead of saying “the mentally ill man,” say “the man with a mental illness”
Putting someone’s characteristics (especially negative ones) before them is dehumanizing and rude. Don’t do it.
When I was little, I ran up to my dad and told him excitedly, “Mom said I was a lesbian!”
He looked startled. “I don’t think she told you that,” he said slowly.
"Yes she did! She said I was a lesbian!"
"No, I’m pretty sure she didn’t…"
I started getting mad. “She did! She said I was good at acting!”
"…That’s a thespian. A thespian.”
But in the end I just grew up to be a lesbian.