I don’t think it is any big thing that we use group descriptions imperfectly. For example we use the term Asian instead of specifying Chinese, Japanese, Korean etc etc. Likewise we use Pasifika rather than Tongan, Samoan, Niuean etc etc. Most people understand why group labels are convenient.
I use the term “guys” as a non gender specific term now. I often e-mail my (all bar one female) supervisors and say “Thanks guys”.
But for some reason it gets a bit precious when it comes to the gay community. Once upon a time gay was short-hand for what is now the wider rainbow community. Then lesbians said they’re not gay, they’re lesbians. And so it was GL. Then bisexuals said we’re not gay or lesbian and it was GLB. And then transsexuals said they are none of the above. so we went to GLBT. Then inter-sexuals were not covered and it was GLBTI.
But that isn’t politically correct enough for the Greens. In a blog post Jan Logie feels the need to state at the bottom:
*The addition of an asterisk to the word trans is to indicate that the term functions as an umbrella term for an extremely varied range of identities, including culturally specific ones. I use it to include identities such as: whakawahine, tangata ira tane, FtM, MtF, transsexual, fa’afafine, transgender, transmen, transwomen, akava’ine, leiti, genderqueer and gender-neutral people.
Oh good God.
That is just too precious.
Would we do that for every time we use the term Asian*. Imagine that:
The addition of an asterisk to the word Asian is to indicate that the term functions as an umbrella term for an extremely varied range of identities, including Turkic, Mongolic, Persians, Tatars, Sarmatians, Chinese, Indian, Afghan, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan, Uyghur, Kazakh, Manchu, Buryats, Evenks, Yakuts, Sri Lankan etc etc
When referring to an individual, it is polite to use whatever term they identify as. But when referring to a group, there is no need to turn it into a encyclopedia entry.