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reading tiger

genders, misgenders, miss genders

So I got to thinking today on my walk home from the bus stop. Some of this was prompted by the new Facebook gender options and how I am too lazy to go and change mine. Some of this by other stuff. Some of it by the Street Sheet guy in front of Arizmendi saying to me, "have a nice day, miss."

I was thinking about how I would have been just as happy with a "have a nice day, sir."

And also that I was not unhappy with "miss."

I was thinking about how apologetic people get when they misgender someone (say, a baby -- or me), as if it were the worst thing in the world to do. the worst. the absolute worst.

And then I thought about pronouns. And how I don't really give a fuck.

This is where I make sure to say that I am speaking only for myself, here. But really. I don't give a fuck. As far as I'm concerned, you can't really misgender me and you don't need to apologize if you change your mind about how you read me on second glance.

I reserve the right to be amused at how this goes against the grain of commonly accepted practice in my community. But fuck it.

In a lot of ways, I think that if you think of gender as a conversation, say, an exchange, as a message, an epiphenomenon of verbal and nonverbal communication, a two-or-more-way street, however you would like to slice it -- then my gender these days is "I'm not talking to you right now." (Echoes of "Mom, I wasn't actually talking to you, I was talking to my sister.")

And I'm OK with that.

Comments

I love that last paragraph. Even though for me it's probably "that conversation ended a few years ago and I don't think it's likely to arise again." Which I believe is a real difference between us, as it should be.

(that's a descriptive statement, not a statement of principle. If I ever become interested in sexual activities with a real living person again, I will not have broken a vow: but I'll be really surprised)
The thing I find the most horrifying about being called "sir" is the way people fall over themselves and apologise abjectly for something they didn't even get wrong. ANd it's just... stop ... doing this thing ... to me....
It bugs the teachers, but I still refuse to correct Max on gender or pronouns when he talks. (Unless the person he is talking about requests a specific gender, in that case I encourage him to try and remember.)

But otherwise, I love his mix-ups, especially when they go differently than someone is traditionally presenting. I like his fluid language.
my gender has always been complicated to such a degree that only a handful of folks in my life get it. my best friend was born female and has a similarly complicated gender. i do try to be as considerate as i can be of trans people in my life. my terror of surgery maybe makes me extra-empathetic to how important it must be to go through all that, so i try to get it right, but i've flubbed sometimes where i was referring back to that person that they really aren't any more. but i'm like you Lori in that whether someone on the street gets my gender or not is so far beyond my caring as long as they don't act like assholes.
I really appreciate you saying this. I can relate to it a lot. I'm always sort of simultaneously amused and dismayed when someone falls all over themselves apologizing if they misgender me or my sister. She gets it way more than I do, but we both have the same reaction. We're so often guessing with that question, the fact that we get it right a lot of the time doesn't actually make it concrete.