How do I discourage being wrongly gendered without being confrontational?

Someone wrote…

I am an FTM. I work in the public school system. I applied to the job and was hired as male…I wear a name tag that clearly reads “MR.” I conform to many male stereotypes (I bind, I have short hair, I wear mens clothing exclusively) Oftentimes, however, I am either referred to with female pronouns among co-workers or they include my presence in terms like “ladies” referring to a group.

How do I discourage these types of experiences without being rude or confrontational?

What’s your experience?

And what are you thinking about gender right now?

Posted by on July 21st, 2014 at 08:00 am

Category: questions 5 comments »

5 Responses to “How do I discourage being wrongly gendered without being confrontational?”

  1. Theocraticjello

    I often laugh and say, “I’m a guy, but thanks for thinking I’m pretty!” That keeps it light, and joking, as opposed to angry and confrontational.


    anta replied:

    I’m not sure how mistakenly calling someone a woman means thinking they are pretty.


  2. Ryan

    I’ve been an out trans* teacher for 3 or 4 years, and am masculine but haven’t gone on T so I don’t have facial hair. I find that without that, people almost always read me as female and call me “she,” and the only way to change things with my colleagues is to have 1 on 1 conversations where I am very explicit about who I am and what I’d prefer. Otherwise they just assume I’m a butch woman.

    I’d recommend private conversations. The conversation doesn’t have to be an attack or even to reference a specific thing that that person did that made you uncomfortable (though you can). It could just be a “hey, do you have time for a conversation? I’m trying to talk 1 on 1 to each colleague about my gender so that things are on the surface” or whatever. Good luck! Being out as a teacher is so important and brave!


  3. Ryan

    Oh! Last thing. No matter what you say or how you say it, it is likely that some people will perceive you as rude or confrontational because they will feel uncomfortable. Don’t let that stop you from saying your piece. Do your best to be truthful and gentle (with them and yourself!) but don’t compromise your own authenticity or sense of safety (physical and mental) for fear of offending.


    radical/rebel replied:

    thanks for posting these awesome, helpful, gentle, thoughtful, and brave suggestions, Ryan!!!!! it’s rad as hell to know there are awesome trans* teachers out there.

    radical education and radical liberation,


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