I know for many trans people being misgendered is a common and daily occurrence. I have been relatively lucky then, in that it is a rare thing for me to be misgendered and addressed as a woman. To be honest I was more likely to be misgendered before I started transition as I looked like a guy anyway.
None of that considers reactions on the phone. On the phone, I get called Miss and Ma’am all the time. Of course, most people don’t mean anything by that and I don’t get offended but just politely correct them and everything is okay. The problems arise when callers who have been corrected or have my details in front of them so should know better insist on calling me by female pronouns and titles.
That, to be blunt, is blatant discrimination and more than a little offensive. This has led to me changing banks, phone providers and utility services over the years. Deliberate misgendering is an act of social violence when all is said and done.
Unlike a guy assigned male at birth, I must constantly prove my maleness and face having my gender identity challenged by anyone who sees it as their right to do so. Misgendering is saying my identity is not valid and anyone can say I am not who I am. If I dare to show even a little femininity in my actions people will see that as evidence I am not male. I am male but have lived most of my life as a woman so obviously some of that remains despite my best efforts to lose it.
Misgendering, even on a casual level, is dehumanizing. It destroys self-confidence which has taken years to build. Often, I have been made to feel I am in the wrong when I correct someone. That won’t stop me, I am male and wish to be recognised as such by my titles and pronouns, that is not a decision for anyone else to make for me. By misgendering me, someone else is in fact saying they can make my choices for me. No, no they really can’t.
If a person misgenders me what they are really saying is they don’t care what I feel or think but only about what they feel or think. They think they know me better than I know myself so have the authority to override my choices. Really? They don’t!
Worst of all is using my deadname or asking about it. That is not who I am, it never was. It is referred to as a deadname as I no longer consider it part of who I am. I am Jez – Mister, Sir, HE!!!
© JG Farmer 2017