Question Thirteen: What’s the best way of dealing with accidental misgendering?

April 11, 2013 § 1 Comment

Morning all – panel bios here.


Question Thirteen

I suspect this is largely up to the individual so there’s nothing resembling a definitive answer to this question but I’m very curious to hear the crack team’s opinions on this one.
 If a well-intentioned person slips, say with pronoun for example, what’s the best thing to do next? Apologize immediately, let it go at the time and hope no one noticed, but say something privately to the person later? or? What difference does it make if the person involved is a friend, acquaintance, or a person you didn’t even know was trans?



Roz: That’s a context thing – there are no rules, Be respectful and don’t freak out.



Naith: Apologise briefly, then move on. “I said to him – sorry – I said to her.” Something as quick as that. Don’t draw too much attention to your mistake, and don’t over apologise. I often find that’s the worst thing. People make mistakes, and that’s fine, but as long as they apologise and move on from it, no harm done. There’s usually no need to bring it up afterwards in private if it was a small mistake, but judge every situation on its own merits. 



Natacha: This is something which happens from time to time to me. I do not wish to make work relationships strained so I try and make sure that I don’t react to inadvertent misgendering with colleagues. Personally I don’t want to have strained and difficult relationships with people at work, so I don’t usually make a fuss about it. Although if anyone deliberately misgenders me then I do. It tends not to happen with friends TBH



CN: I do think that it depends on the context. If it’s someone who doesn’t know me well, particularly if they don’t know much about trans things, then there’s a fair amount of leeway. The use of gender neutral pronouns as a regular component of English (as opposed to an occasional substitution for him/her, she/he) is so new that, to be honest, I’m often just grateful that the person in question tried. A quick ‘oops, sorry’ is totally fine. When it comes to the people close to me, it can help if I know why they did it – often it’s just because of exhaustion/confusion/brain fail – quick apology, no problem. But if someone close to me repeatedly misgenders me, even if they’re sorry, I think they need to work out why they do it and sort it out – because it does hurt.



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