Assumptions about assumptions

PJ wrote…

I notice that fellow genderqueer or transfolk I’ve encountered don’t seem to mind being asked, “Do you have a pronoun preference?” and even thank me for asking. In cisgender folks the question seems to inspire a range of emotions from bewilderment to haughtiness to rage. I find it curious that most people would likely say that it’s better not to assume anything about a person, but about gender thing some people not only welcome the assumption about themself, but they react accordingly when it’s *not* there.

What’s your experience?

And what are you thinking about gender right now?

Posted by on November 15th, 2008 at 08:00 am

Category: your voice 4 comments »

4 Responses to “Assumptions about assumptions”

  1. A

    I have a count of about 20+ times that women have tried in various more or less polite ways to kick me out of the womens’ toilet. When I speak, usually just giving them a simple “No I’m not” reply to their “You’re in the wrong bathroom” and this comment in combination with my voice gives me away as a woman, the girl who “guessed wrong” usually wants to vanish from embarrassement. “Oh my god I’m so so so sorry” they say, and giggle nervously and quickly take off with their friends. This behaviour can seem kind of strange, given the fact that I dress more or less like a boy, and obviously I’m not trying to come across as a very femme woman. So why are they so embarrased? They’ve actually guessed more right than wrong. But my reading is that it’s because being mistaken for a man is one of the worst things they can imagine happening to themselves, so they are actually apologising because they are empathizing with me in a weird way – they are feeling/living what they think I’m experiencing, and because that feeling is so horrific for them, they want to apologise ten times over.


  2. Andy

    When strangers call my son “she”, I generally don’t correct them. If they ask me his name (which is definitely masculine), some get embarrassed, but others get down-right angry that I didn’t correct them RIGHT AWAY. I’m like, “Look, he’s a baby. Babies are babies.”


  3. Jonathan

    I don’t use pronouns at work. I live in a pretty liberal area with a large and active LGBT community, so I just don’t use them. I’ve embarassed myself a couple times already, and the only time I use gender non-neutral words are when I speak with sweet little old ladies and call them “miss.”

    I can relate to being confused about pronouns, though. One of the people who works there goes by a masculine name, but on all of our schedualing stuff is a feminine birth name. Everybody else just uses “she”, but I’m all confused and try to use pronouns with the person as little as possible. I don’t have courage to ask which is to use either.

    And before anybody asks, my fear of pronouns is from before I met the person. At my old store, there were a couple of people who looked the opposite gender. I think I guess gender by hair styling, which is really a bad thing at my new place. So many women look like men to me because of it.


  4. Brandon

    Since people started getting uncomfortable with the pronouns they use for me, and since they started appologizing, I’ve begun asking every single person I meet what pronoun they prefer. It’s funny how many people get completely angry and even rude. I just don’t understand what the big deal is. They ask me what my preferred pronoun is, and apparently they feel they can’t just assume one (in fear that I am the other), so why is it okay for me to assume about them? I think even if I wasn’t trans, I’d like it if people asked me what pronouns I preferred because I’d get a chance to own my gender/pronouns. Then again, maybe if I wasn’t trans, I wouldn’t think about it.


Leave a Reply

Can I show your picture? If you have a Gravatar associated with this email address, it will be displayed as your photo. If not, I'll just put a picture of a fork next to your comment. Everybody likes forks.

Be nice. Judgmental comments will be quietly deleted and blacklisted. There's plenty of room for those elsewhere on the web.

For legal reasons, you must be age 13 or older to post a comment on Genderfork.

You can use some HTML tags for formatting, e.g. <em>...</em> for emphasis (italics) or <strong>...</strong> for strong emphasis (bold) or <a href="http://(url)">...</a> for links.

Back to top