Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Monday, 15 January 2018

Call me Madam!

Miss Gender is not an apocryphal character, or some strange sort of beauty pageant, it is that awful moment when somebody uses the wrong, inappropriate pronouns, using he or him instead of she or her. Obviously this particularly affects trans people who have transitioned. Some people will do this deliberately to show their disapproval, some will do it deliberately to inflict hurt and pain, others again will just slip up, but which ever of these groups the perpetrator falls within the pain is the same and very real.   I suspect most of those people who are guilty of this do not realise just how painful it is to the trans person when they are miss gendered, but it can really hurt!.

Sir! really?!
The pain this causes is very real, it can stop somebody being able to work properly, it will prevent them being able to contribute within any environment, it undermines any sense of self confidence.   I don't know if people who are not Trans can understand this pain that is regularly inflicted on many trans people through the use of pronouns of the wrong gender or their old (dead) name.   Indeed the reason I am writing this now is so that those of you who do read this will get some idea of why we complain when it happens, hoping that a better understanding will encourage more effort to stop doing it yourself, and better still, offer support, championing and defense of your trans friends when somebody does it to them.

For many Trans people the use of their dead name is a painful reminder of the life of internal conflict that they have left behind, it can trigger memories best left in the past; it is also a denial of their transition.  It is a very, very big thing to get together the courage to transition, it involves a lot of burning bridges, lost relationships, for many it can mean marriage break up, loss of work, lost friends, and financial hardship.   It takes a lot of emotional energy, it involves expense, time and mental strain. It is not something anybody does lightly, or on a whim. It is not a lifestyle choice! It is a total change in how we relate to the world, and how we want the world to relate to us ~ to use the dead name or the wrong pronoun is to tell us that all of this means nothing! It is a denial of our very being, our identity, our sense of self.

Surely it's pretty obvious!
It is not only painful to the person directly miss gendered, it is painful to all Trans people as it feels like a denial of our very being, the existence of being Trans as a valid identity, of our ability to understand our selves.

Every Trans person I know experiences this from time to time. Many will experience it at work (even though they should be supported by HR departments etc.) but since I am self employed for me it is mostly either people who knew me before I started my transition and have difficulty either accepting it, or remembering it, or on the telephone.  

Let me make it quite clear, while I can understand the odd slip, that does not make it acceptable.

If I have to correct somebody once I can understand, even though it still hurts, if it happens a second time then it feels like a deliberate insult.   Over the last week or so I have had a lot of telephone conversations about an insurance claim I have going on, I am quite sure that my voice confuses a lot of people, when they hear me on the phone (particularly when I have a cold) they can feel that my voice does not match what they expect somebody with my name and title should sound like, therefore I tend to be asked more identification questions than other people, I will have to confirm that yes that is my name, and yes I am the policyholder. This is exasperating, I understand the confusion, but understanding is not the same as acceptance, I do find it annoying, and if after all that they get my pronouns wrong then it is plain insulting!

Please don't do it, and please don't allow other people to do it!

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