Misgendering happens, just calm down


Natalie Larimer, Online Sub-Editor

For some reason, the past few days I have been mistaken for a guy multiple times. This happens a lot, I get it, I have short hair and that automatically means I am a man obviously, but I’d like to discuss how to handle situations like this, no matter what end of the conversation you’re on.

For the person being misgendered, just go along with it. If you really care that much, politely correct them and tell them it’s not a big deal. If you make a scene, it just becomes more awkward for everyone. I would rather be misgendered than stared at for being misgendered.

If you are misgendering, kindly apologize and use the correct pronouns afterwards. Don’t apologize for like 10 minutes and follow every word with, “I’m so sorry!” One quick little “Sorry!” followed by using the right pronouns is sufficient and I promise the person you’re misgendering will get over it.

If you are a bystander, perhaps a friend of the person being misgendered, please do not mention it. If you do, be nice about it, it’s probably a touchy subject. Don’t bring it up afterwards and definitely do not tease at all about it. It’s not a big deal to be mistaken for another gender, but if your friends laugh about it, it makes it a big deal. Just let it go.

Again, it does not bother me to be misgendered. I am fully aware that my short hair and my “guy clothes” (even there is no such thing as gendered clothing, refer to previous columns, “Gendered clothing is pointless” and “Continuation of gendered rant”) make me seem more masculine. I choose to be me rather than a product of societal expectations, and I honestly do not care if you think I’m a guy.

Just in case you think this would never happen to anyone, let me give you some examples. First off, the harmless little children asking, “Are you a boy or a girl?” Just answer them and smile, they don’t know any better. Another recent one for me was the B-Bops guy calling me “sir” at the beginning of the transaction and then switching to “ma’am” by the end of it. Or the guy at the Drake campus bookstore who told me I would be “Quite the busy man!” to which my mom corrected him and he didn’t talk for the rest of the transaction. I made it clear that I don’t care and I’d rather it just be dropped but that doesn’t usually change things.

What I find interesting is that I am treated differently due to what gender someone perceives me to be. I’m more respected when they think I’m a guy. I don’t get the door held for me, but they call me “sir” and say “thank you” more. Now that’s messed up. It shouldn’t matter what gender I am to treat me like a decent person.

I know this will be hard for some of you, but I’d like you all to understand that misgendering happens and every girl with short hair will have at least one experience with it. Just be a decent human and don’t make a huge thing out of it because I promise it will only make it worse.