Beyond Pink and Blue: What to Say, What to Do
By: Jess Badyna
In recent years, we have seen more exposure to the LGBTQ+ community, and more people becoming comfortable expressing their identities. With the emergence and awareness of non-heteronormative sexualities, there is also another aspect which is vastly different, but just as important: gender.
However, for non-cis – those whose gender is not aligned with sex – everyday life can be awkward or frustrating, because people often assume genders, or are intentionally hurtful or disregarding of their identities.
So for those of you who want to avoid this, or are not sure how to react to different genders, here are some do’s and don’ts of non-cis people.
* DON’T assume genders. Despite “normal” depictions of gender, many have a different idea of what gender is, or are transitioning to express it.
* DO ask someone what their gender is. Gender isn’t the business of others in the first place, but if you’re getting to know the person, or it is necessary, it’s important to know how they identify. Instead of asking a choice question, such as “Are you a boy or a girl?” ask a more open-ended question: “What gender do you identify as?”
* DON’T make fun of, or invalidate, non-cis genders. Sarcastic comments such as “Did you just assume my gender?” asked in a mocking tone are offensive. As with any joke or stereotype, there is a small iota of truth; some overreact to a mistaken identity of gender when it was actually a miscommunication. However, these rare occurances are greatly overshadowed by non-cis individuals legitimately wanting to be identified correctly.
* DO use correct pronouns once their gender is clarified. Boy pronouns are he, his, him. Girl pronouns are she hers, her. Sometimes, someone would prefer a singular they, theirs, them. Some like to use special pronouns such as xe, xyr, xem (pronounced zee, zye-ur, zem). In the United Kingdom, it is becoming popular to identify gender indirectly, using the title Mx (pronounce miks) such as Mx. Anderson or Mx. Hudson.
* DON’T tell people what gender they are. This is the most important concept to remember. If the gender is not what the “normal” perception is, respect what people identify as. It is unacceptable to tell someone what they are: “You have these parts, so you’re a girl,” “you have this, so you’re a guy.” It’s the equivalent of calling a cis-girl a guy; they feel its who they are, and they want their gender respected.