What is misgendering you may ask…..it is when a person is spoken about as ‘he’ or ‘she’ and that is not the gender the person identifies with. Last week’s blog was about the opportunity that celebrities who played with gender gave us to learn and celebrate diversity of gender expression, this week will be about the issues that arise and the damage done when a person is misgendered. The reason I am following on with this topic is due to something that happened this week, and happens every day around the world, to someone I know.
Let me tell you a story….a cis woman with short hair and wearing their regular work Hi Vis uniform enters the women’s toilet (let’s call her woman 1)…..enter stage right another woman (woman 2), confronts woman 1 and tells her the men’s toilet is around the corner.
Woman 1 is a little surprised and lets woman 2 know that she is also a woman, she has a feminine voice and noticeable breasts. This does not seem to register with woman 2 who then calls security.
There were other women also present in the toilets at this time……woman 3 and 4…..who defend woman 1 and suggest that woman 2 is mistaken.
Security arrive and supports woman 1, with the backup of woman 3 and 4, and eventually asks woman 2 to leave, apologising to woman 1.
So this leads to the questions of:
What was woman 2 so scared of that she had to call security?
Why did woman 2 not back down after being told that woman 1 was indeed a woman?
Why did woman 2 still not back down after woman 1 was supported by woman 3 and 4 and security?
And why did woman 2 not apologise and insist against all evidence that woman 1 was indeed a man?
Now this story was about a cis woman who had a masculine presentation, she did not fit what woman 2 perceived to be her ideal of how a woman should look, this was disturbing enough now imagine how difficult this must be for a trans person.
Some people have unrealistic ideals of how men and women should look, some trans people meet these other people’s ideals and others do not, why should anyone be called out for not being ‘male’ or ‘female’ enough, who writes the rules and who enforces them?
Misgendering a person, cis or trans, is rude, it shows the person who is doing the misgendering narrow view on gender and expression and says so much more about them than it does about the person they are misgendering.
So if you see a person who does not fit your ideal of masculine or feminine, man or woman, male or female…..move along….it is none of your business
Richelle has had a passion for sexuality and sexual health since 2001. She has worked in the field since 2006, providing sexuality education in schools, and adult education in the topics of diverse sexualities and gender identities, LGBT health issues, sexual health and LGBT relationships.
This is a space for me to share with you my journey as a Sexologist, the things I learn and the people I meet and what I think and feel along the way.