I mentioned in a response to Skepto that lesbians get called by neutral or male pronouns sometimes by people who take a look at their appearance and assume they don’t identify as women. He responded:
“My first reaction to this was abject horror, because misgendering people is extremely rude and disrespectful in my eyes. Then I realized this was somewhat ironic considering who I’m talking to. So… if you don’t believe that pronouns can do any harm, as you said in your previous post, why do you feel that calling people by male pronouns against their will is bad?”
What an excellent question! I think there are two distinct questions here, in fact.
(1) Why do I “misgender” trans people but not want to “misgender” lesbians?
(2) Why do I care about lesbians being “misgendered” if I don’t think pronouns can harm people?
Let’s start with an introduction to pronouns and misgendering. As I’ve been writing about lately, people can easily identify the sex of most people they interact with on a daily basis, while fully clothed, in normal social situations. People who believe in trans ideology can identify people’s sex too, but their ideology requires them to pretend they don’t understand what sex is and that they can’t tell the sex of other people without asking them invasive personal questions. Anyway, most people, if they have not been indoctrinated into trans ideology, use pronouns based on people’s sex, not their gender. In fact, I don’t think that most people have a “gender.” Unless a trans person comes along and starts teaching them this ideology, the average person just knows what their sex is and hasn’t ever heard of the concept of “gender.”
People who feel they have a gender identity require those around them to stop using correct sex-based pronouns and instead use pronouns that correspond to their internal, subjective feelings. If people comply with this request, then they are not “mis-gendering” the trans person, but they are “mis-sexing” them. Trans people don’t mind being mis-sexed because they are uncomfortable with their sex and also purport not to believe that sex even exists or that it matters.
Your sex never actually goes away. If you are a person who is biologically programmed to produce ova, you will never become a person who is biologically programmed to produce sperm. You can become a female with a modified female body that looks masculine from the outside. That doesn’t mean you are male. People who call you ‘she/her’ are correctly identifying your sex, rather than your gender, which is what people normally do.
Since I don’t think that “male” or “female” are insults or slurs, I don’t see any reason why it would be harmful for people to make these observations. Identifying that someone is female or male is just like identifying other physical characteristics like height, eye colour, hair colour, etc. There is no reason to feel insulted by someone making an accurate observation. To me, if you are insulted that someone calls you female, it surely must be because you think there is something wrong with being female. I’m not sure what else the reason could be. No one has ever given a satisfactory explanation of why this is, they only say they are uncomfortable with being female for no apparent reason, and others are supposed to accept without question that a female who feels a mysterious, indescribable discomfort with being female is therefore really a male. That doesn’t make sense, so I don’t agree with it.
So let’s get to question #1, why do I “misgender” trans people but not want people to “misgender” lesbians?
I’m putting the quotation marks around the word “misgender” for a reason. Although trans ideology doesn’t want to distinguish between gender and sex, I do. There is “misgendering” and there is “missexing.” I believe in correctly identifying someone’s sex, not their gender. Since gender is an internal, mysterious, vague, subjective feeling about oneself, I don’t believe there is any reason I need to be aware of it or acknowledge it. I have never expected anyone to be aware of my internal, vague, subjective feelings—that’s not something that strangers or casual acquaintances do for each other. The only people who I could possibly expect to care about by internal subjective feelings are my intimate partner, my best friend, or my therapist. However, someone’s sex is observable, provable, describable, and a part of material reality. I believe in acknowledging reality over people’s mysterious, indescribable feelings.
What you perceive is the “misgendering” of trans people is actually the correct identification of their sex. I also correctly identify the sex of lesbians by calling them women. This is a consistent position because in both cases, I identify the same thing.
There is an important reason why lesbians get “misgendered,” (although the term here should be missexed.) Lesbians often don’t look the way heterosexual society expects women to look. Those of us who do look the way women are expected to don’t get “misgendered.” For example, I don’t get “misgendered,” because I look “like a woman,” according to social standards. But lesbians who are either butch or otherwise gender nonconforming get mistaken for men by people who don’t expect to see a woman with short hair and “men’s” clothing.
There is another reason why lesbians get “misgendered,” and that’s because people who believe in trans ideology see a woman who doesn’t look like what society has decided women should look like and they assume that she doesn’t identify as a woman. Trans ideology promotes the idea that looking the way you want to instead of the way you are expected to makes you “trans.” However, it’s just normal to dress in comfortable clothes and have a short hair cut, this does not indicate that someone has a revulsion toward her body, wants to modify her body, or wants to be incorrectly labelled as “male.”
Here’s an example, written by blogger “theacknowledgementchronicles” who is a butch lesbian:
“The same queers who were screaming bloody murder about people not getting their pronouns right, started to use gender neutral pronouns for me without asking. It didn’t feel right. Occasionally someone would ask what pronoun I used, and on hearing me say “she and her” would double take and say “are you sure?”
Why weren’t these queers taking my first answer? They certainly got angry when people questioned using the neutral “they”. It occurred to me that members of the queer community were questioning my right to define as a woman because of my androgynous appearance almost as much as straight homophobes had questioned my validity as a woman for the exact same reason. I felt increasingly pressured to define as something other than “woman”, and that being a woman, particularly without prefixing it with something like “genderqueer” or “genderfluid” or “non-binary”, was increasingly difficult to get people to accept. Was I so bad at being a woman that my own community wouldn’t even believe me? Isn’t it ironic that a supposedly radical community seemed to find the concept of a masculine woman so difficult to swallow?”
I hope this illustrates what’s happening when trans activists choose neutral or male pronouns for lesbians—they are implicitly saying that the lesbian is something other than a woman. This is rooted in sexism and homophobia—the belief that women should look a certain way and that homosexual females aren’t real women. The idea that homosexuals are really “men trapped in women’s bodies” or “a male mind in a female body” is an old, homophobic belief that came from early heterosexual sexologists who were trying to explain homosexuality and defining it in terms of heterosexual belief systems. Now the trans cult is promoting the exact same thing and calling it progressive. So many FtM videos I watch are young lesbians who came out as lesbian and then after watching a lot of YouTube videos decided they were really “men,” based on really silly things like wanting to wear “men’s clothing” and have a short hair cut. They are completely normal lesbians who have been convinced they’re not women. This is homophobia and it breaks my heart every time I see it.
Calling a masculine female by male pronouns, even if that’s what she has requested, is rooted in the idea that a masculine female is not a real woman. I think that’s what’s insulting. It’s not insulting to identify a female as a female, because being female is not an insult. But going along with the idea that certain women aren’t doing woman right, based on incorrect cultural ideas about what a woman is, is insulting.
Moving on to question #2, why do I care about lesbians being “misgendered” if I don’t think pronouns can harm people?
I don’t think that the use of certain pronouns or words like “sir” is intrinsically harmful, but when you look at the social context you can see the situations where sexism and homophobia play into it. It’s the sexism and homophobia that are harmful, rather than the words themselves.
I don’t think that trans people are upset about the pronoun itself, they’re upset about people identifying their sex when they don’t want to be identified that way. It’s not the pronoun itself that is harmful, it’s the attitude that’s being revealed that bothers the person. They are upset that people aren’t referring to them by their “gender.” I still haven’t been convinced that correctly identifying someone’s sex can reasonably be upsetting.
The only time mis-gendering someone could be reasonably considered harmful is if a trans person who fully passes as the opposite sex is “outed” in a situation where there are dangerous people around and knowing they are trans would make them want to harm the trans person. For the record, if I was a bystander in this situation, I would NOT out the trans person, for their own safety. But often enough, trans people are out as trans and no one actually wants to harm them (for example, in liberal, tolerant areas where no one cares about whether you are non-conforming in appearance.) The fact that so many trans people publicly declare their trans status means that there is no real harm in someone identifying their sex—they have revealed it themselves.
If mis-gendering is harmful only on the basis of the person’s feelings being hurt, and not on the basis that they are in physical danger of being subject to actual violence, then I have a note to make about that. Trans activists have managed to create laws and policies in some places where you are not allowed to call a trans person by the correct pronoun for their sex, and instead must acknowledge their gender. It’s interesting that it has been so easy for men who identify as women to get laws made declaring it “hate speech” to call them men, (even though the word “man” is not an insult), when so far it has been impossible for women to get laws made declaring hate speech against women illegal. It’s still perfectly legal anywhere to call a woman a bitch, a whore, a cunt, a TERF, a cumdumspter, a slut, a ho or anything else. It’s legal to tell a woman she deserves to be killed or raped, and it’s also legal to actually rape a woman and upload the video of her rape on the Internet and call her a cunt and call the video “free speech.” Feminists have tried to get pornography labelled as hate speech and we can’t, because men won’t allow it to be called anything other than “free speech” even though it promotes violence against an identifiable group of people—females. It’s also de facto legal to sexually assault a woman in pretty much any situation because convictions for perpetrators are very rare. For some reason, even though the trans community names mere words as literal violence when used against men, they haven’t taken any position at all against the industries that create actual, literal violence against women, nor the words that are used that are harmful to women, and instead they themselves enjoy calling women by slurs whenever one disagrees with them, and they universally support the pornstitution industry. In fact, trans activists think that even if 100% of transwomen were convicted rapists, they should still be welcomed in women’s private spaces. For all their talk about preventing violence, they don’t give a shit about preventing violence against anyone who is female.
If the use of a mere word is “literal violence,” then when will the trans community declare misogynist slurs as well as physical violence against women as “literal violence” and make them illegal? (Spoiler alert: they won’t, because trans ideology is misogynist to the core.)
Lesbians have been getting “misgendered” (although it would be more accurate to call it “missexed”) since forever. Although trans activists on the Internet like to claim they are being “LITERALLY KILLED” by misgendering, lesbians have been surviving getting called “sir” as long as there have been lesbians, and there have been no reported deaths.
My partner wears a buzz cut and “men’s” clothing (although since they’re her clothes I’m pretty sure they can be referred to as women’s clothing, but they come from the “men’s” department.) But anyway, just these things alone make people call her “sir” all the time. Recently I asked her how she reacts to being called ‘sir.’ She says that sometimes she just goes with it and enjoys subverting people’s expectations, and other times she gets annoyed and glares at the person until they apologize. When she’s in a washroom, other women do a double-take or check the women’s sign on the door to make sure they’re in the right place. This is a form of mis-sexing that lesbians commonly endure and the message is: “You aren’t a proper woman.” So far there have been no reported deaths from this either.
What’s going on when a lesbian gets mis-sexed is the same thing that’s going on when a lesbian decides she’s not a woman and needs to transition. A judgment is being made that she doesn’t meet the standards of what a woman is and she is therefore not a woman. People need to understand that women with the personality traits that society codes as “masculine” are real women, this is an acceptable way to be a woman, and it doesn’t require correction.
I think the “harm” that comes from lesbians being called “sir” is pretty mild, and no worse and no better than “misgendering” a trans person. But as I have explained here, the reasons for so-called “misgendering” in both cases are very different and it’s worth looking at why. It’s also worth looking at what words the trans cult considers “literal violence” and which ones it doesn’t.
I prefer to identify that females with masculine traits are acceptable females, that being female is not a problem, that being called female is therefore not insulting, that having a natural female “butch” personality and appearance is not a problem, that no personality is the wrong one for a female to have, that being female is something to enjoy and be proud of, and being lesbian is something to enjoy and be proud of. I will not support the “fixing” of masculine women by pretending they’re the opposite sex.