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The Faux Pas of Misgendered Rage


I’ve noticed that within my community there is a lot of bad feelings over the whole notion of being ‘misgendered’. I talked about a similar situation a while back revolving around the word ‘tranny’ and all the hoopla it seems to cause, so I thought it might be a good time to revitalize my stance. So, let’s talk about that.

For anyone who doesn’t know, ‘misgendering’ is the act of mistakenly or deliberately identifying someone as the opposite gender to which they are clearly representing. For example, approaching someone wearing a skirt, with breasts and makeup on and saying, “Hey dude, how’s it hanging? Ready to rock out with your cock out this weekend?” is a clear case of misgendering. Often times, however, this is unintentional. I know this happens to especially butch women from time to time and the person is quickly corrected. It certainly happens to the genderqueer population almost constantly because in many cases the individual feels that either answer is wrong, leaving people confused. I’m not talking about that though; I’m talking about when it’s deliberate.

The most common form of misgendering occurs in the male population when ‘ball-busting’ is involved. The easiest way for men to tease each other and impugn their sense of masculinity is to compare them to a woman, or better yet, a little girl. I never quite understood why is so ingrained in male culture, but it is, and even if outlawed, I think they would find some way to do it in secret. While clearly offensive to women, I don’t think there is any intended harm and merely speaks to the work ahead of us in terms of continuing to advance the notion of gender equality.

It is almost as equally employed against gays and lesbians due to a persistent confusion between gender and sexual orientation. Don’t make me get out the Genderbread Person again people. It’s also a well overused means employed to get the goat of transgender people. Some elements of RadFem and like-minded organizations like to do this because it’s a very easy way to attempt annoying someone who clearly understands themselves differently than these types would like. I wandered over there and got the whole misgender treatment, and I’ve seen other trans* bloggers get swarmed with commenters who like to employ this simple name calling tactic. Nice, right?

Getting right down to the brass tacks – please do not give someone a bright shiny red button right on your forehead to press!  A mistake is one thing, but when someone is doing it on purpose, they are attempting to provoke a response and nothing you say to them or accuse them of is going to make a difference. If you react and get all pissy pants about it, they got exactly what they wanted. “Hey, let’s spin up the tranny by calling her ‘him’! It’ll be a hoot.” When we give people the means to easily provoke an emotional response, they will take it. Sure it’s immature, but so is having a conscious, rationalized, and pressing opposition to a demographic recognized by the vast majority as innocuous.

My two cents is to not even bother with a response at all. With a mistake, there is opportunity to discuss and possibly educate, or at the very least correct. When it’s on purpose, not really worth our time and energy. If you know who you are, it doesn’t matter what someone’s opinion is. Besides, there is satisfaction in remaining calm in the face of attempts to provoke that generally paints them as unreasonable or mean in spirit. You came this far to understand who you are and no provocative little barb can change that.

About michellelianna

I'm a transgender woman now in the maintenance stages of transition having all the electrolysis and surgery one can reasonably be expected to undertake. While busy exploring my new world, I took to blogging about it with dubiously popular results. I don't have quite as much to say as I used to, but I'm not quite done yet either.

9 responses »

  1. I’m no longer positive the place you’re getting your information, but great topic.
    I must spend some time learning much more or working out
    more. Thank you for magnificent info I used to be looking for
    this info for my mission.

  2. “Misgendering” is really a matter of opinion. It depends on whether you accept someone as the sex they want to be or the sex they biologically are. It’s the speaker’s choice and you can’t control how they see people.

    • “It depends on whether you accept someone as the sex they want to be or the sex they biologically are.”

      Unless someone is seeing another nude or has some access to specific information about a person’s sex, then ordinary “gendering” is based on the speaker’s “gender perception” of the other person’s “gender expression,” their biological sex notwithstanding.

  3. Pingback: Thanks For the Provocation, But I’m Good « Michellelianna

  4. Reblogged this on Dora's Trans World and commented:
    I kind of like this read as educational opinion, and, personal experience.

  5. Too bad you took this off Reddit before it got the panning it so richly deserves.

  6. Really awesome post, Sis. I couldn’t have said it better. If more of us took this type of calm, rational approach and knew when to react and educate and when to walk away, the world would soon run out of reasons to mess with us.



    • The rational appoach you speak of is actually a minority opinion and. very elitest i.e., arrogance projected by those who hardly experience misgendering. For reasons that are obvious or further along in their transition. So I hardly need some tranny who lives full-time and is largely immune to my problems callng it irrational behaviour. It’s no different than telling someone under horribly oppressive economic conditions they need a better attitude. Stupid tranny i am someone not as fortunate as you so being dismissive is insulting

      • Can you please share a why you feel as you do about this article? You have voiced a very strong negative opinion.

        As one who gradually and gently moved through androgyny to be the woman I am today, I dealt with years of misgendering. I found that for strangers and acquaintances is it best to simply ignore the slight: if it was accidental, then you’re being gracious (and that’s usually appreciated), and if it was deliberate, well: I’ve learned it’s better to not “feed the trolls.” Since I recognize what I have learned from years of difficult experience expressed in this article, I wonder how that is “arrogant” and “insulting?”

        Also, you *do* realize that calling someone “tranny” in our culture is quite insulting…did you mean it that way?


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