50

No, misgendering me is not okay or justifiable. Yes, this is a big deal.

Pronoun Name Tags

Hello Pronouns Stickers from www.storeenvy.com

I’m not going to sugarcoat this one, okay? Are you ready?

It is never okay to misgender me. It is not okay to call me by my birth name. It is not okay to refer to me using masculine pronouns. It is not okay to describe me as being anyone’s son, brother, or husband. It not okay to call me “man,” “dude,” “guy,” “bro,” or anything else of the sort. Nope. Not okay.

This is not negotiable. There is no discussion to be had about this. Just don’t do it, okay? It doesn’t matter if you are talking about the past before I transitioned and was pretending to be a man, it’s still not okay. I always have been and always will be Amelia.

I get it, mistakes happen and you will likely slip at some point. I understand this and I don’t blame you for an honest mistake—just correct yourself without making a big deal about it, no apology necessary. If you’ve known me for a long time, it may take some time to get used to it and undo the muscle memory of referring to me as you used to. This is not what we are talking about. I can tell the difference between an honest mistake and you simply not giving a damn and having no respect for me. And if you’re doing it on purpose or maliciously, yeah, I can definitely tell.

To you, it may not seem like it’s a big deal, but it is a huge deal for me. When you misgender me you are telling me…

You don’t actually see me as a woman

If you are able to look right at me and gender me as a man, you very clearly don’t see me as a woman. I’m sure you have absolutely no issue calling other women by female pronouns, so why am I different? Am I not a woman like they are? Be honest, I’m just a man to you, aren’t I?

Not that it would be at all okay to misgender me if I didn’t, but I even look like a woman. Yeah, I don’t pass 100% (nor do I want to), but I look a heck of a lot more like a woman than I do a man. Even if you still need time to change the way you see me, looking at me should guide you to the right pronouns.

If you are unable or unwilling to see me as a woman, then you are are unable or unwilling to see me as the person I actually am. If this is the case, I am likely going to be unable or unwilling to continue our friendship.

You don’t respect me as a friend, equal, or person 

respecttranspeopleIf you knew me before transition, you should have no trouble understanding how big of a deal it was to come out as transgender. Whether I told you one-on-one or you found out via Facebook, I put my emotional well-being at your mercy. And when I came out to you, I very clearly asked that you refer to me only as Amelia and with female pronouns. I was clear about this. When you do not refer to me as such, you are making it clear you don’t respect me. I told you this was important to me and you ignored that.

Even when you are discussing the past, you are talking about me and I am and always have been a woman. You may have known me by a different name, but that was still me, a woman.

You don’t care what feelings you trigger for me

This is a really big deal for me. When you don’t refer to me as a woman, it’s yet another reminder that the world doesn’t see me as one. It’s a reminder that I’m different from other women. It’s a reminder of a life I didn’t have and the mistakes I made trying to deal with that. It’s a trigger of all the dysphoria I used to feel, how miserable I used to be, and how much I hated myself. It makes me question how I look and whether or not this was worth it. The next time I look in a mirror, I will spend ten minutes picking apart all my flaws and obsessing over the masculine-looking features of my face and body. I look at the size of my hands, feet, and shoulders. I look at my lack of hips or discernible waist. I look at my hairline. I look at my shape of my brow. I look at my giant nose. I look at my Adam’s apple. I look at my long torso and short, stubby legs. I look at all these things and I pick myself apart. Most of these things, I can’t change and the ones I can change require painful and expensive surgery.

On a good day, a really good day, I can shake this pretty quickly. But most days, these feelings linger for hours. Sometimes they linger for days.

When you misgender me, you don’t care that I may end up crying in the bathroom or curled up in a corner somewhere hating myself. Is it your responsibility to walk on eggshells and coddle my emotions? No. But it is your responsibility to not be a dick to your friend, acquaintance, or coworker. Transition isn’t an instant cure-all, these feelings and vulnerabilities don’t just go away. They are still easily triggered. I may not still think about suicide every day, but it still does happen from time to time.

You don’t think what you say matters

Maybe it’s unfortunate for you, but the words you say do matter and how you treat me matters. Maybe I don’t actually care what you think, maybe I do. Either way, your words and actions can still be triggering (see above).

When you refuse to see me as a woman, this isn’t just isolated to an interaction between you and me. It’s actually much bigger than that. When you refer to me as a man and I don’t stop you and correct you, other people think this is okay. They think they can call me a man too and it doesn’t matter. This puts an onus on me to say something and correct you every time. Often, this is difficult to do without making it a big deal, it disrupts conversation, is extremely awkward, and makes me look like a sensitive bitch.

When you don’t care enough to gender me properly, you send a message to other people that it’s okay not to respect transgender people. You are saying it’s not necessary to respect our genders and identities. I don’t blame you for the transphobia in the world, but you are being complacent in it. You are contributing to an attitude and a world that doesn’t think I’m a person.

When you speak of the past and use my birth name and male pronouns, you are confusing others who may not know I’m trans or who may not quite grasp it all. You make it harder for other people to see me as a woman.

You are making light of my transition and what it means to be transgender

When you don’t gender me as I have asked you to, you are indicating to me that you have no idea how difficult transition can be. Transition meant risking my marriage, job, friendships, family, and everything I have. My emotional well-being and life will likely always be on the line. I risk my safety just by leaving the house each day.

Every time I go to the bathroom—which is roughly hourly thanks to my hormones—I spend an extra few minutes “fixing” myself. I make sure my hair looks as good as I can get it, my clothes are sitting on me just right, and my makeup is doing what I need it to. I do this every time and I don’t do it for me. I do it for you. I do it to make it easier for people to see me as a woman.

When you refuse to gender me properly, you are saying none of this matters and it’s not a big deal. You don’t care about how much I used to want to kill myself every day, everything I did to get to where I am now, and what I still have to do and deal with. You may not have noticed, but the world doesn’t exactly accept transgender people much. Every day is a fight for trans people and it’s not easy. If you can’t do this one simple thing, it’s clear to me that you don’t respect our lives.

I’m not asking you for a lot, really. I’m asking for you to refer to me as a woman. That’s it.

You think my identity is yours to define

When you gender me as a man, you’re telling me you don’t respect my right to define my identity. You are telling me my gender and identity are whatever you say they are. I don’t get say over my life and how I live it, instead it’s you who gets to dictate the person I am.

You think it’s okay to out me as transgender to a room full of people

Depending on the setting, it’s possible, maybe even likely, there are other people in the room who don’t know me or know my past. Maybe this is the first time they met me or maybe they’ve met me a couple times, but don’t know anything about my life prior to transition. I know it sounds absurd, but there are some people in this world who don’t know I’m transgender.

When you misgender me, you’re outing me as trans to them. You are taking away my right to control that information to the best of my ability. Maybe I don’t want these people to know. Maybe this isn’t how I want them to find out. Maybe I do want them to know, but I’m not in the mood to field questions at the time. Maybe my wife is with me and I don’t want her to have to field questions. It’s not your right to put me or my wife in that position.

You don’t get to tell people I’m transgender. You have no right to do this and I don’t take it lightly. Do you know how these people will react? Are you sure you’re not putting my physical safety at risk?

I may not pass completely, but I like to think I don’t grossly stand out as transgender in a room full of people (this is a pretty huge privilege I have and I’m extremely grateful for it). Even without you outing me, I may not have any say in the matter, especially if I have to actually open my mouth and take part in conversation. Still, neither you nor I can determine how someone will read me when they look at me. They may not see me as transgender and may, in fact, simply see me as a woman. You have no right to take that away from me.

I have said over and over again, I want people to know I’m transgender. I want to be out, open, and visible about it, but this does not make it okay for you to be the one to out me. I have the right to out myself as I see fit. I also have the right to not out myself if I deem my safety to be at risk or I’m simply not in the mood to deal with being everyone’s ambassador to the transgender community (a role I typically enjoy).

I don’t get to clock out from  being trans, but sometimes I just want to interact with a room full of people like any other woman would. I have that right.

Simply put, gendering me properly is a big deal. 

If you are incapable or unwilling to gender me properly, it tells me a lot about what you think of me and transgender people as a whole. This is a big deal for me and I am not okay with you misgendering me, nor will I listen to your attempts to justify it. It is never okay. Ever.

50 Comments

  1. Of course, it’s more complicated for me, since I’m still inching towards transition. My wife and I were talking this morning about her fear that, if she reverts to calling me Kristin, she will forget the context and end up outing me by using it at the wrong time. I’m not sure there’s much I can do with that except strive for the day when I am out, so that I only have the one identity, instead of continuing to juggle two.

    • Totally understand that! My wife and I went through the same thing. She actually didn’t start calling me Amelia or using female pronouns at all until I was completely out to everyone. It was the exact same reason as with your wife, it’s hard to switch back and forth without making a mistake. For us, it was especially difficult because we also work together.

      • Yes, I think the way we have it is that, for the most part, she takes her cues from how I’m presenting. If I’m in guy mode, that’s the name she uses. If I’m not, she uses Kristin. We’ve also started being more intentional about using Kristin, if we’re on IM. And I have started signing emails to her as “K.”

  2. This is good and clearly gets my point across to those who think just because they knew me before. They can pick and chose my gender at will…Its not ok.

    • You’re absolutely right! Nobody can pick and chose your gender at will. Neither do you.

  3. Yes, when it’s happening to man it is always terribly important isn’t it? You don’t rearrange yourself in the bathroom,have to urinate frequently, sometimes hate parts of your body for ME, you do it all for YOU. And just reading how flippantly you discuss your wives, who have obviously had their lives thrown out of whack and continue to be loving and supportive of you, (like all good wifeys should be eh?) is so revealing. Appropriate the sex of the person you oppress, (no matter how willingly she goes along with it, that’s life for actual women), and make sure follows all your needs. This actually proves your ENDURING MASCULINITY. Busted!

    • I’m not even going to bother with the buffoonery about me appropriating women, as there’s no reasoning with asinine TERF logic.

      However, the fact that you actually mention my wife and make assumptions about her is extremely offensive. You know nothing about my wife. You know nothing about how she feels and why she is with me. You’re clearly trying to bait me into speaking for her so you can then further accuse me of oppressing her and displaying some kind of made up masculinity that you think I have. However, the fact that you feel you can speak for another women (whom you know literally nothing about aside from what I have mentioned here) is a blatant display of the oppression you pretend to be against. You don’t care about what other women may feel or want, you only care about what *you* want them to feel and want. In the end, it’s about you…which is funny because that’s what you’ve accused *me* of. I know exactly where my wife stands and what she feels, but I will not speak for her and bring her further into this. If she wants to comment, she will.

    • @Simone Walker: I hear your parents are filing a divorce and said that they no longer love you anymore. How does that feel, you little b*tch?

  4. Obviously referring to transsexuals as the sex they want to be is polite, but I don’t think you can make some sort of moral obligation out of it.

    You certainly can’t expect Catholics to follow those strictures, for example. Their beliefs are just as important as anyone’s sexual identity.

    • First, I come from a Catholic background. I was raised Catholic and confirmed. My mom and my uncle are go-to-church-every-week Catholics and a very close friend of our family is a priest. None of these people have issues with me being transgender or referring to me as a woman in any way. Our friend of the family, the priest, even provided his blessing (not that I asked for it).

      Second, your argument is based on trying to tell me that I need to respect your intolerance. So I have I to respect you, but you don’t have to respect me? That’s how this works? What you are telling me is that your beliefs are the only ones that matter. Sorry, but no. If you can’t respect what I am asking (WHICH IS A REALLY SMALL AND SIMPLE AND EASY TO DO THING), why should I respect you in turn?

      Third, if you are such a wonderful Catholic, tell me, do you really think it’s the “Christian thing” to do to treat someone like crap? You see all that stuff up there that I wrote? The things about how it makes me feel? Yeah, that stuff. Christ’s teachings were centered around being kind to others and Catholicism goes on and on about being a good person. Well, making trans people feel like crap and not respecting them as fellow humans is not being a good person. It’s not loving thy neighbor.

      Fourth, the Bible makes no mention of trans people so respecting our genders does not in any way go against your religion.

      What you are trying to do here is hide your bigotry behind your religion because, apparently, you’re too much of a coward to come right out and say you’re a bigot.

      • I will never stop being amazed at why when a person has a belief system that work for them it has to dismantled because someone else does not agree. I believe choosing your gender is the same as choosing to be an addict or not. Wait one problem one is classified as a disease the other is a CHOICE. You can not in good faith with all the acceptance you ask for expect people to just abandon their beliefs just because you want them to. You say people treat you different then find different people to be around. Others’ opinion is just as important as your feelings. Everyone has the right to their opinions and beliefs.

        • I do not believe you’re an actual human being. I believe you are a rogue piece of code floating around the internet going from site to site to spew hate. You may *choose* to believe to be a human, but that goes against my belief system and I do not have to accept it. Please do not ask for acceptance or for me to see you as human as my beliefs and opinons are important and I have the right to them.

          I also sincerely believe that you should go ahead and fuck right off.

          • someone is questionning your beliefs, and you cant defend them, so you resort to insults. typical liberal tactic. ”do not ask for acceptance or for me to see you as human as my beliefs and opinons are important and I have the right to them” well guess what, so does he, shit-head. So, since my opinions differ from yours, I guess you dont qualify as human either.

  5. My words exactly. Every single thing you have said here applies to me. Every single pain you describe here has flowed through me. I had to look at the top of your blog twice to make sure I hadn’t written all this myself. I am so sorry, for you, for me, for all of us.

  6. ‘Am I not a woman like they are? Be honest, I’m just a man to you, aren’t I?”

    It makes it much easier when the person has female biological features and acted according to certain norms of what woman usually acts like to see that person as a woman.

    It would be much harder if the person had much more prominent male biological features and acted according to the norms of the behavior of men to see that person as a man.

  7. Whine about “misgendering” all you want, but you will never be able to reassign X and Y chromosomes. See a therapist.

    • Biochemist here, hello. Fun fact not all human beings have XX or XY sex chromosome pairs, many people actually have XXY, or XXX chromosomes and they don’t even know it. There are also plenty of cisgendered women with XY chromosomes. Don’t believe me? Read some recent literature on sex development and genetics. Also fyi, gender is different then sex. Gender is an expression of self identity, sex is a phenotype. A phenotype is the physical expression of genes that can be altered by things like hormones. So the terms “Genetic woman” or “Biological woman” to define a cisgender woman don’t actually make sense since cis women are capable of being according to you “genetically male.” Trans women who are on hormone replacement therapy actually alter the expression of their genes and behavior of cells in a “feminine” manner so from a medical view we genetic and biological women.

  8. Gender isn’t a social construct, these name tags are pointless, and making them is privilege, stop being privlaged!

  9. Where is my gendertag with de, di and dir, this is privlage, stop harassing me, this artical is sexist and was made to make fun of people that a gender Dimfluid, stop it, Cis-Scum, the writer is an evil person that only cares about themselves, Cis-Gender Scum.

  10. I thought this was the Spurdo Fan Page. Did I come to the wrong place?

  11. Mr. Amelia, do you still have a penis? If yes then you aren’t a woman.

  12. Eat my fat nigger cock, niggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggernigger

  13. Great post! I faced some mean transphobia at work yesterday and reading this made me feel better. Misgender pronouns trigger panic attacks for me, especially when a friend or family member does it without correcting themselves. I am trying to get over it when my friends say “dude” though because my community in Albuquerque uses “dude” as a genderless pronoun. Amelia you are an amazing writer and I can’t wait to read more of your blog! 🙂

  14. People wonder why there is so much hate directed towards transgenders. This article is why. They feel they have the right to control how other people act and how they talk. They feel that they can demand respect, while everyone else only gets respect if they command it. Why do transgenders feel they have this entitlement? Mental illness. That’s what it boils down to.

  15. Sometimes when I address a group, I will say “Hey guys!” but is use that term in a group sense of male female and genderfluid people. Is this okay?

    • Unfortunately, I can’t give a definitive answer here because it’s really going to be up to each of those people you’re including in “guys.” Personally, I’m okay with the gender-neutral use of the “guys” in most contexts, but I’ve been trying really hard to break my use of it because not everyone feels the same. Instead, I tend to say folks, people, or y’all.

  16. My heart goes out to all of you. I read the ugly comments. You are you. You are strong. You are only making a choice to stop living a lie. I am a straight woman. Mother of two. I stand with you and against the true ugliness that have written such horrific things. I’m sorry they do that. Don’t own it. Not for a nano second. That’s theirs to deal with. You stand strong. 🙂

    • Excellent comment, espousing hate tells more of a story about the sender than the recipient.

  17. I wanted to add my own voice of live and acceptance to this. There are some terrible comments on here, and a lot of people showing they truly didn’t read what you wrote.
    You are beautiful and valid. Thank you for using your voice to express what many are afraid (or unable) to voice.

  18. Thanks for what you shared here. The tide of history is with us. Young people see us differently. They are less judgemental and have a more expansive view of gender. Like the dinosaurs, in time the bigots will die off. The times they are a-changing.

  19. I don’t want to disrespect anyone but you have to put yourself in the other persons shoe too. If they see you as a man when you aren’t, then there has to be a logical explanation for that.
    Haven’t you heard the saying – “If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck”? Don’t forget that you are judging when you assume the other person is judging you on purpose. If you don’t make your gender clear to others, you can’t expect them to get it right without correcting them. You certainly shouldn’t consider this a big deal unless it was obvious(which clearly it’s not otherwise why make the article?).

  20. I’m going to “gender” (which apparently is a verb) you properly: you’re a guy. And you’re rather disrespectful yourself for telling me what to call you. That’s not up to you to decide.

  21. a part of me feels like you should just use any names and pronouns you decide on to call people who continue to misgender/misname you! after all, they can’t just tell you how you must refer to them, right? since they don’t care about anyone’s feelings other than their own, perhaps that would be a way to get a lesson through their thick skulls for once. anyway, thank you for this lovely article!

    • He can call me anything lol. I can honestly say that I would not care even a little bit. Not everyone is hyper sensitive.

Leave a Reply