Today was going to be a post titled Mum, but for various reasons I have decided to change to Misgendering today. I think this is an important topic and I feel it needs to be talked about more, openly and honestly. I am going to talk about what it means, what it feels like, what it does, and more.
Misgendering is the act of calling someone (particularly who is trans/non-binary) by different pronouns to which they use. It is also treating someone as a gender they do not identify as (such as being charged the female rate at the hairdressers when you are a trans man), and refusing to accept someone’s gender.
As someone who has been misgendered probably more times than I have had hot dinners, I can say openly that it sucks. It is a horrible experience, even by someone who otherwise has no idea and should not be expected to know, it really hurts and can send people into deep valleys of their minds that are not positive spaces. I know when I was getting misgendered a lot, I struggled severely and became in a place where it was not safe for me to be. The worst thing I think is when you then correct someone, especially a stranger, and they look at you with that puzzled humour, and laugh, sometimes correcting themselves and sometimes, with such gall, have the guts to tell you that you’re wrong about your own gender. Or when friends and family tell you that you will always be your dead name/gender to them, that you will never be your actual name/gender to them.
Being misgendered is something that happens to cis people too, not just trans and non-binary persons. It happens daily, often by accident, even to animals. But rarely in these instances do people act mean over it, or laugh when you say you are actually X. People slip up on pronouns, they get it wrong and correct themselves/apologise. The issue comes when someone is laughing because you ‘think’ you are right, because you couldn’t possibly be X. The problem comes when people act like douches.
I am not going to stand here and say I don’t know that a lot of misgendering is accidental, because I do. The accidental misgenderings hurt, but as a general rule we know it is not your fault. It is down to Knowledge, and understanding, it is down to a mistake, a slip of the tongue. As I said before, the problem is not just the misgendering itself, it is the act that follows, the reaction once we tell you it was wrong or you realise the same.
This is an issue for a lot of trans and non-binary people daily, we face criticisms and analysis into every part of our bodies, we are told we cant be men because we have a vagina, we cant be women for the reverse, hell we can’t be non-binary because of having either of those or non-typical genitalia. It is a constant struggle. Even now I am passing as male, if I am outed, or I trust someone enough to confide in them, I still get people saying I can’t be a man, or I can’t be non-binary. I am unable to state my own gender and have other people recognise it.
I hadn’t received a lot of hate for being trans for a long time until recently. Some asshat brought me into an argument about gender online, stating something paraphrased like ‘Kai is still a woman, despite her surgery and anything else and she always will be.’ The guy was then banned from the group he did this in, and he proceeded to try to report one of my profile pictures post top surgery where my chest was on display. It was horrible, and I wanted to fight back against it, but he then blocked me from replying.
The reality is though, this was minor in comparison to some things I have witnessed and heard about. People are given abuse because of transphobic people who think they are right. TERFs constantly fight our existence, banning trans women from women only spaces, calling them men and visa versa.
Misgendering is not cool, it is not funny, it is not ‘bants’. It is horrible, and if you were the one on the receiving end of it, you’d see just how bad it can affect people.
I hope this post helped a few people understand what I was on about, and I hope it has not triggered too many feelings for people who have been/are misgendered. If you would like to talk to me about anything I have discussed on my blog please do not hesitate to, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, comment on the blog, or message me through social media.
Tomorrow’s post is O for Out, where I will be discussing being a visible trans and/or non-binary person.