how to refer to this trans* person

dear person who sent me an email containing an approximation of this (rhetorical? honest?) question: “should i not apply feminine pronouns to you when referring to the time before you transitioned/were a girl?”,

no.  no you should not.  i was never a girl.  it doesn’t fucking matter that you/the world thought i was a girl because you/the world were mistaken.

the fact that people once thought i was a girl is irrelevant to every respectful conversation you could have about me– because it’s nobody’s fucking business.  on my own terms, i choose to disclose on this blog that i was dfab (designated female at birth).  you have no right to disclose that information because my gender is my own.  as in, not yours’.

it’s extremely rude to refer to a trans* person as anything other than their actual gender– regardless of the topic.  if you’re discussing a time before a trans* person began their transition, refer to them by their preferred pronouns.  if you’re discussing the violent death of a trans* person at the hands of local grues, refer to them with their preferred pronouns.  if you’re discussing the time a trans* person went into outer space to have sex with aliens– something something something preferred pronouns.

while i’m at it, i should probably mention that the same goes for names.  i’ve legally changed my name as part of my social transition and it would be disrespectful/cissexist to even mention my old name (accidents happen, but they still hurt).  my old name was never mine; please pretend it never existed/was on my birth certificate.  my old name has no place in any remotely respectful conversation you could ever have about me.

this is considered common courtesy in the trans* community.  please note that using our old names/pronouns is disrespectful whether or not we’re listening.  some trans* people don’t mind other people using our old names and pronouns– but lots of us are very triggered/offended/hurt when other people use our old names/pronouns.

the only way to get around this is with the express permission of the trans* person.  you may use our old names/pronouns with  our permission.  and you do not have my permission (neither does anyone else– don’t feel bad).

am i touchy about this shit?  fuck yes.  do i assume that you simply didn’t know any better?  yep!  i’m still touchy about it, though.  if you want to know why i’m so touchy about old names/pronouns, read this article about lorena escalera (tw: cissexism, death).  dmab (designated male at birth) trans* people get the brunt of this spidershit, but it affects all of us.

thanks for reading.

seriously but not angrily, ALL the mx. punks

4 responses to “how to refer to this trans* person

  1. Hey there again Mx. Punk, long time no “Think Tank Band”. I was going to add to your thoughts on cissexism as I recently did a few pieces on it myself. I clicked to add your article to my recent blog that had some stuff about that in it, but I think Zemanta is failing epically lately and not sending ping-backs, or perhaps spam sorting… Oh well. Anyhow, I was going to add that in addition to misgendering or using the wrong pronouns cissexist also have a tendency to “degender” as well.

    Recently I had an incident with someone who said “If you decide to become a true woman”, and this particular person has had a history of using the “real/true woman” trope. That can apply either way. One of the things I most recently posted about I mentioned that “being a trans* woman didn’t give me the right to declare what ‘trans’ or ‘woman’ means for anyone else”. I applied the same to all people. Being a cis woman doesn’t give the the right to decide what a ‘woman’ or a ‘female’ is for everybody else.

    Obviously this is much more complex and dynamic, in that there is a basis for considering those things, but there is no dynamic way to address those things within out culture. We learn to find ways to describe it, but their isn’t a consensus and it’s not widely accepted. Being the target of cissexist assertions is just another one of those things that we face, and it sucks. That is why I am calling on Lo Pan to fry their eye sockets out with rainbows, MUAHAHAHAHAHA!

    (Or MAHABHARATA! or whatever that is according to autocorrect). I have been disappointed that people close to me still do this, and I don’t always know what to do about it. Anytime I talk about you or reference you with regards to my blogs I use your preferred pronouns. I do that because I respect you and all my fellow peoples, additionally I admire your desire to spread the word. I have learned so many awesome things in the past year from blogging, and a few big things changed as a result. As always I hope you keep it up, and I thank you.

    *** Pulls out a giant drill, drills into the ground with a poof of dust, and then lava forms and fills up the hole and quickly cools. (We don’t need people hurting themselves) :3 :3 :3***

  2. thanks for linking to me, cat! (is it ok if i call you “sparkle-cat?” “cat” seems too generic for you…) i have pingbacks activated, so i don’t know why i didn’t get one. :( maybe internet is being pouty.

    as for the reeeeeeal woman-thing, ew. a “true” woman? um, i don’t know what she was referring to, but i’ve heard cis women describe bottom surgery as if it made trans* women reeeeeal women. the only thing i have to say about it is this: if we started telling cis women they were totally defined by their pussies, i bet they’d be right pissed. i hope you don’t have to put up with that kind of thing too much. :(

    some grues do this weird thing where they reassure me that they “don’t have a problem” with my gender and that it’s “fine with [them] if i want to “become a transgendered.” lulz. cuz they think they’re fucking gatekeepers, i guess. at any rate, it’s srsly amazing how totally offensive peoples can be when they’re trying their veryvery best to be “open-minded.”

    @ your penultimate paragraph: aw, thanks! you know, i’ve learned a lot from you and i feel like we’re growing up as bloggers together. it’s rad to know that we always have each other’s internet-backs. basically, you’re an integral part of my support network– so, yay! (sorry for being cheesy.) i totally plan on keeping it up, too. can’t help it, really. :)

    and the person this post is about knows who they are. they meant well, i’m sure, but it hurt me so much i couldn’t actually reply to them via email. this is less personal, in a way, so i felt safe enough to reply to them.

    …i don’t think i can top your exit. i’m just going to gape in awe– and throw some dandelion puffs around. *has nap in sunlight* sun for every tummy!

  3. Yes, I am totally cool with sparkle cat, and you just gave me a great idea for my next self portrait… “SPARKLE VAMPIRE CATGIRL RENETA!” No relation to Twilight. I conquer with sparkles, but I don’t personally glow, or at least not that I’ve ever seen. And my blog (Cissexism – Finding a new biography for gender) is very much in some degrees for the same reason as you. The only problem is that I don’t think they see what they did wrong as they keep repeating it. I just don’t know how to face off with this person about the really ignorant stuff they spew. It’s tough, and I feel safer blogging than confronting. Le sigh.

    But it was so upsetting, so frustrated, and so infuriating I had to vent. I had intended on the post anyways, and had some material for it already, but it really pushed it, and shaped it a little. Every time people give me shit about my gender I just want to get purple and blue streaks in my hair, wear and outfit that is masculine on one side and feminine on the other, and go running though the streets skipping as my protest to the world. “I AM ME! I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK! AND I AM GOING TO SINK YOU BATTLESHIP IF YOU TRY TO PUT ME IN THAT BOX AGAIN!” – Me I might just sink the battleship anyways.

    And you are totally right, we need support groups to work together and resonate of each other and even to be “checks and balances” for each others positions. If I ever went “too far” or said something boldly wrong, or just “out there” I’d hope you’d correct me. And you have in the past which I appreciate thoroughly. There are unfortunately people in the world who aren’t going to agree with you, and just aren’t going to understand or be able to respect your position without a lot of time, and education. Certainly wish there was an easier way. And I wish they had as much respect for my position as they do their own, and could just agree to disagree.

    *** End Transmission… The hologram sparkles, flickers and goes out leaving a cloud of rainbow sparkles in the air. ***

  4. sparkle vampire catgirl reneta = yay!

    it’s good that you’re keeping yourself safe; boundaries are important. imma gonna read your post after i type this comment, so maybe i’ll have something constructive to say. cuz right now i just want to offer to, i dunno, toss that person into a non-glittery volcano.

    “Every time people give me shit about my gender I just want to get purple and blue streaks in my hair, wear and outfit that is masculine on one side and feminine on the other, and go running though the streets skipping as my protest to the world.”

    do it! i do shit like that when i’m super down; i take a personal pride day, paint rainbows on my face, and run around yelling about how awesome i am. try it! :)


    exactly, sparkle-cat.

    thanks for sharing your brain with me again! yay!

    *skips away through the neon-colored internet to sparkle-cat’s blog* *reads stuff*

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