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Misgendering is something you might have experienced at some point in your life whether you are trans or cis. Misgendering can be very hurtful and cause mental health issues for some. But what is misgendering, and what's so bad about it? In this wikiHow, you will learn about misgendering and what to do if you accidentally misgender someone.
Section 1 of 5:What is misgendering?
Misgendering is the act of acknowledging the wrong gender for someone (intentionally or not) or assuming someone's gender based on the way they look/act. An example of misgendering would be using she/her pronouns for someone who actually uses they/them, or assuming somebody with long hair is a girl. Misgendering can be harmful for many reasons.
- Misgendering is common for trans people, but cisgender people who appear to be another gender and/or have unisex names can also be misgendered.
Section 2 of 5:Why is misgendering harmful?
It can have bad consequences for people's mental health. Constantly and intentionally misgendering or deadnaming a trans person can cause dysphoria, anxiety, distress, depression, overall sadness, and impact their ability to function in daily life due to not feeling "seen". Several studies have shown that misgendering is extremely harmful.  X Research source  X Trustworthy Source Harvard Medical School Harvard Medical School's Educational Site for the Public Go to source
Section 3 of 5:Avoiding Misgendering
1Refer to someone with gender neutral terms before you get to know them. Use "they/them" and "person" to refer to somebody before you know their gender. For example, if you see a stranger at the park with a dog, you could say, "The person with the red shirt is walking their dog," rather than "That lady is walking her dog."
- It will be likely be awkward for you and the other person when you called them "he" and "a guy" just because they had a buzz cut.
2Avoid making assumptions on someone based on how they look. Simply because somebody is wearing a dress doesn't mean they are a woman, and somebody with short hair isn't automatically a man. Don't make assumptions about someone's gender until you've met them.
3Ask how the person would like to be referred to when you get the chance. The best time to ask for someone's gender or pronouns are when you introduce yourself. You could state your pronouns, along with your name, for example; "Hello! I'm Sam. My pronouns are she/her and he/him. What's your name and what pronouns do you use?"
- Many people don't like being asked what their pronouns are. For trans people, it can seem like being asked if they're trans, which can be a problem, especially if they're stealth. You can also ask for their name or gender directly.
4Get creative when greeting friends. Use words like "y'all" and "folks," "greetings," "everyone," or "friends," when addressing your comrades, rather than "guys" or "ladies and gentlemen" to be more inclusive.
- At all costs, avoid using phrases like "guys, gals and nonbinary pals" "girls, gays and theys" since it reduces trans and nonbinary down to gender and pronouns.
Section 4 of 5:What to Do When You Misgender Someone
Correct yourself, and move on. There's no need to make a scene after you've made a mistake with someone's name or pronouns. Apologize, correct yourself, and quickly move on. For example: "Jessie left his--sorry, their--bag at home this morning."
- Apologizing repeatedly or talking about how you're trying to remember your friends pronouns but you have a terrible memory and you're so, so sorry will only make it awkward for the both of you. It most likely won't be the first or last time they've misgendered. Keep things simple and short. X Research source
Section 5 of 5:What to Do If You've Misgendered Someone in the Past
Bring up the situation with the person you misgendered, and apologize. Begin by going somewhere private with the person, and bring up the time you misgendered them. Start with something like, "Hey, Maya. I'm really sorry about when I misgendered you on the party last Friday. I'll try my best not to do it again in the future. Are we still cool?" Apologizing will show that you care about them and their feelings.
- Try not to make a big deal out of this. Some people might have forgotten you misgendered them or brushed it off. Some people might remember. Either way, it's important to apologize.
QuestionIs the word "dude" gender-neutral?Community AnswerIt largely depends on the context. In most cases, no. A more neutral (and polite) term depending on the context is "excuse me" as in "Excuse me, why did you do this?" or "people" as in "I talked with a bunch of people."
QuestionCan I use a pun to refer to a person as a harmless joke?Community AnswerYou might want to be careful with using vocabulary that might be perceived as racist, sexist, or [insert identity term here]-phobic. There is a difference between talking down stereotypes and belittling of others. You are more likely to be perceived as discriminatory if you belittle others than if you talk down stereotypes in the form of self-deprecation.
QuestionWhat can I do when somebody misgenders me?Top AnswererIt's best to correct the person if they don't correct themselves, and move on. Try not to make a huge deal out of being misgendered, as it might become awkward for you and the other person.
QuestionWhat happens if I misgender someone?Community AnswerIf this happens, it can be degrading to the receiving individual. The individual may respond by blocking you online or refusing to hang out with you in person.
QuestionDoes a person's sex equate to a person's gender?Community AnswerNot always. While typically a person's sex will be the same of their gender, modern reputable academics have separated the concepts of sex and gender to better explain gender inequalities and gender dysphoria. Sex refers to the biological characteristics of an individual that does not change, while gender refers more to the societal roles that a person fits in, regardless of sex.
QuestionWhat if my brother got misgendered because he has long-ish hair? He corrected the tour guide, but then the tour guide just said "Oh, sorry miss". I can't talk to the guide but this happens a lot.Top AnswererSuggest that your brother wears a pin stating his pronouns since he constantly gets misgendered.
QuestionI use "guys" with my female friends. Is that OK?Top AnswererSure, if your friends are okay with that. If they aren't okay with it, you can also use "ladies" or "people" when you see them (i.e., "hey ladies!") .
- If you frequently find yourself misgendered, it may be helpful to wear a nametag that includes your pronouns or to add your pronouns to your display name or about me.