10 January 2012

Partner Circle: First Edition

Partner Circle: First Edition

“Are you a boy or a girl?”

This very question was posited to a friend of mine as she stood at a corner, leaning on her bike and waiting patiently to cross the street. A man leaned out the window of his friend’s car and yelled straight at her. When her response was nothing more than a ‘you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me’ stare, he repeated himself. Again, she did not respond. Apparently, stymied by the fact that his seemingly simple question was not being answered, he decided to repeat himself once more. Finally, she narrowed her eyes at him and simply said

“Is that seriously all you can say?”

What this champion of the English language had failed to realize is that gender is never that simple. What many people cannot seem to understand is that the gender binary is a socially imposed fallacy – we do it to ourselves. Unless and until the day comes when this is no longer the case, we have to learn to be gentle with each other. Every time we misgender someone, regardless of their actual gender identity, you are causing hurt. Though this may not be done with malicious intent, it is something we all must be conscious of, because something as simple as an incorrect pronoun can sting more than one can imagine.

Since this is ‘partner circle’, I would not be doing my job if I did not mention that it is not just the person being misgendered that feels hurt when this happens – their partners feel it too. As someone dating a non cis-gendered male, it kills me a little inside every time someone refers to us as ‘you girls’ or to him using female pronouns. My boyfriend is a man and people misgendering him would never emasculate him in my eyes or make me love him any less, but I am not everyone. So here is my plea to everyone reading this: please, be gentle with each other.

Oh, and watch your pronouns.

xX Emily

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