Are people misgendering you? How can you learn to cope with that? And why is being misgendered not that big of a deal? Let’s talk about that now.
Hi everyone! We are going to be discussing being misgendered, how to cope with it, and why it’s not an act of violence like some activists claim. First, we must understand what is misgendering. Misgendering refers to the act of accidentally or purposefully referring to someone by the gender pronouns they do not go by. For instance, since I am a transgender woman who was born male and have transitioned to female, people can misgender me by calling me by male pronouns. I do not present as male, I do not look male, I do not sound male, and so on. Rather, my identity is female since I present, behave, and take the role of a female according to my society.
I have been accidentally and intentionally misgendered, and neither of which, at almost any part of my transition, affected me once I began my transition. However, when I was presenting as male, being viewed and referred to as such was very upsetting to me. Nevertheless, once I did transition, being seen and referred to as such wasn’t a big deal since I knew in my mind I was a female. I was accidentally misgendered initially by my family since it takes a while for the people around you to get accustomed to calling you by different pronouns. However, it was when I built an online presence that I started being misgendered in a demeaning way. But, despite all the terms people used and even the hatred that came from some people, I never let that affect me to such a degree that I would consider it anything more than simple harassment and insecurities in that other person.
A common argument some people make, especially those in the transgender community, and activists, is that being misgendered is an ‘act of violence.’ Saying it’s an act of violence is nonsense for the simple fact that it’s just words. The reason why people think it’s violence, however, is often because it’s uncomfortable being misgendered and it can lower your own self-worth and esteem. Accidental misgendering is understandable, but deliberate misgendering is rude and ignorant. Regardless, to those who claim or think deliberately misgendering someone is an act of violence, let’s be clear and rational here, it’s not. He/she/they/them, whatever you decide to call yourself and identify, are just words. The moment you begin to let words hurt you is when people start seeing how little self-esteem you actually have and will often exploit that to hurt you more.
Am I affected by when people call me a man, guy, dude, whatever? No, because the people who are deliberately saying this are people who are often rude and inconsiderate and don’t need to be in my life. It’s not an act of violence, but rather an act of rudeness and perhaps harassment. These people are entitled to their opinions the same as anyone else is. There are people who see me as a male, and you know what, I was born male and will always be one biologically so I see where that thinking comes from. I get nasty comments every single day about my transition, how I mutilated my body, how I will never truly be a female, and guess what, it doesn’t bother me because I don’t let it. If you let simple words hurt you, then you’ve given these people so much more power than they should have on the way you feel about yourself.
Let’s take a deeper look at why people think it’s an act of violence. A large number of people who think being misgendered is an act of violence are often people who let their entire life and world revolve around their gender. It’s usually gender this and gender that and that’s all they think about. Some people going so far as to constantly observe what pronouns people use for them and try to censor and change other’s perception and opinions of them. These very same people often suffer from a severe lack of self-confidence and worth because they essentially let other people determine how they feel about themselves by the words of others.
The truth is, words can be abusive, absolutely. I will not delegitimize all the victims of verbal childhood abuse, since I personally was one. A child developing is greatly affected by the words and actions of their parents when growing up as their mind is developing. If they are constantly told they are unloved and left all by themselves, abandoned, they will feel alone and unloved when they are an adult until they can overcome their past trauma. But, the moment when someone is an adult and can make the decisions of their own life, they choose to let the past and present actions of others affect them. So, when someone feels that being misgendered is an act of violence, the problem isn’t with the person that is doing the misgendering who has the right to their opinion and freedom of speech, but rather with the person taking offense in the first place. You don’t have to let it affect you, and if you do, the only person you can blame is yourself. Check out my video about taking offense that goes into much more detail.
If you are misgendered, there are plenty of reasons for this. Let’s say you fully pass as a man or woman and no one can tell. Yet, it’s only until after you tell people that they misgender you. They could do so accidentally, but also intentionally. In this other person’s mind, they know you were not born as the sex you are presenting as and thus will try to delegitimize you.
Or it could even be the other way around, that you don’t pass well and people can’t see you as male or female. Let’s say you have transitioned to female, but your voice is deep, you have very dark facial hair, a receding hairline, and so on. These are often traits of a male, and thus people see you as a male. This can be extremely challenging for some, and they want to pass so badly, but are unable to. Regardless of if you pass or not, however, you can still be happy and not worry about being misgendered. This is entirely up to you.
This also goes along with the society you live in, and the expected roles of male and female determined by your society. Now this is different from the biological differences between men and women. Men typically are this and that way, and their body structure reflects this. That’s biological. Societal is mostly the interests, such as men like to do this and women like to do that. So, if you disobey society and go against the typical “boys like blue, girls like pink,” mentality, then people will view you differently as what they consider male or female because they are conditioned, by society, to believe these things determine male and female, when in reality, it’s many other things that determine it.
Another reason people may misgender you after they find out you are trans is because they go by biology, saying things like, “You are not biologically male or female.” As if that’s a reason to purposefully misgender someone. While it is true that trans people aren’t biologically the sex they transition to, as in chromosomes, physical features, genitals, and so on, if you present as such, and wish to be viewed as such, then others should respect that. But, it doesn’t mean everyone will agree with it.
If you are being misgendered, what are some ways you can cope with this? Let’s talk about that now.
Dealing with Being Misgendered
Dealing with being misgendered can be challenging since it does affect your self-esteem and self-worth. But, that’s the hint as to what to work on to being able to take being misgendered. For you see, the biggest thing is working on your own self-esteem and self-worth. If you love yourself, accept yourself, and live each day with gratitude and positivity, then other people trying to bring you down will be unable to put a dent on your happiness. I’m not saying you will be exempt from negativity entirely, but most of the time it just wouldn’t matter.
To build up your confidence with being misgendered, realize that these pronouns are just words. Does ‘he’ define you? Does ‘she’ define you? Do they really define who you are? No, you are much more than your gender. As I mentioned earlier, when all you think about and focus on in life is your gender, you will be incredibly impacted when someone misgenders you because you are constantly observing and analyzing others and their perception of you.
Instead of worrying about how others perceive you, focus on how you perceive yourself. When you let those pronouns, or other words from people in general, define you, then you are letting the other person have too much power. How you feel about yourself is what you think of yourself. You can’t let people define you, only you can define you. If you identify as a woman, but don’t look it to others, does that really matter? If you are a woman, and feel like a woman with whatever you consider what a woman is, then that’s all the happiness you need. The way I compare it is like this, an older person transitioning may feel like they will not pass or look good enough. But, that doesn’t matter. When they transition, they find the happiness within themselves and that’s all that matters. Other’s opinions don’t matter and should not define you. Check out my video about this that goes into much more detail.
You cannot force people to call you by the correct pronouns. Let me say that one more time, you cannot force people to call you by the correct pronouns. Self-explanatory. There are a lot of people who do this, not just with being misgendered either. When you expect and demand people change for you, all that shows is how self-centered you are. Rather, you have no control over someone else’s thoughts and actions. Focus on changing yourself, not how to control others.
In conclusion, misgendering refers to the act of accidentally or purposefully referring to someone by the gender pronouns they do not go by. It’s uncomfortable being misgendered and it can lower your own self-worth and esteem, and that’s where to begin with learning to deal with it. You cannot change other people’s perception of you, or their thoughts or actions, but you can learn to build your own self-confidence to properly deal with being misgendered.
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If you have any other input on this topic, I would love to hear it so please feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you agree or disagree with, and/or how this has helped you or someone close to you. Have a wonderful day!
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Had to think of a good title that was relevant with the times. Fighting back against the whole “I’m different and the victim” mentality. I’ve seen numerous people claim that being misgendered is an act of violence, and I just don’t see it. But even worse, these same people try to censor any opposing views they don’t like for the same reason. The mentality is: You don’t agree with me, so you are my enemy and are wrong. I don’t get it. While I don’t agree with a lot of opinions and views, and can be arrogant at presenting my own view at times, I’m willing to hear what the other person has to say. In the end, I see it as we are both right. The way I view right and wrong is there is no wrong views and opinions, just different perspectives. This is key to understanding much of how people think.
Regardless, I hope this information was helpful to those who are unable to properly cope with being misgendered. It can be devastating and affect your self-esteem, but once you build that up, it just won’t matter.