Wednesday, May 17, 2017

If You Don’t Get It, It’s Your Fault

I know the statement is kind of harsh but of the things that I learned over time is to take a person’s word when they tell you gender and if they tell you they are genderqueer believe them. And if they tell you their gender pronouns, use them.
By Sam Dylan Finch
September 15, 2014

It can’t be emphasized enough: Coming out as transgender or any variation thereof is downright terrifying. It is often met with criticism, resistance, and invalidation. When I came out to friends, it felt like the world was crashing down all around me.

And by far, the worst part was the resistance I faced when asking others to stop saying “she.” Beyond coming out, we also ask others to change a very ingrained habit — to use different pronouns when speaking about us. This is where I encountered the most turmoil.

Some folks simply don’t understand what they are saying when they refuse to use someone’s stated gender pronouns.
When someone states their pronouns (he, she, ze, they, etc), they are asking for your respect. And when you choose not to use these pronouns, and instead opt for your own, you are not only invalidating someone’s identity, but you are also saying a plethora of harmful things that you likely never intended.
Sam goes on to list what you’re really saying when you refuse to use their pronouns,
1. I know you better than you know yourself.
When you make the decision to not respect someone’s pronouns, what you are ultimately saying is that their personal truth is something you are more knowledgeable about than them. You are saying, “How could you possibly know your gender? Only I could know that, and you’re wrong.”
2. I would rather hurt you repeatedly than change the way I speak about you.
Each time we misgender someone, we are inflicting harm. Would you rather hurt someone? Or simply change the way you are speaking?

3. Your sense of safety is not important to me.
When we misgender someone, we run the risk of threatening their personal sense of safety, as well as their physical safety. When someone feels invalidated or disrespected, they may not feel safe or comfortable in the space.
4. Your identity isn’t real and shouldn’t be acknowledged. 5. I want to teach everyone around me to disrespect you. […] 6. Offending you is fine if it makes me feel more comfortable.
Sam goes on to list four more things and sums it up with,
Using the correct pronouns is a way of validating that we ALL have the right to live our truth, however that truth looks or however that path twists or turns. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.
And I would add that it also shows respect for the person.

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