I get they/them’d a lot.
Everywhere I go: the library, shops, social events, restaurants—so many people are keen to refer to me as “they/them” or as a “person”. Whether they’re speaking to someone else and referring to me in my presence—or speaking directly to me—it’s been whole lot of they/them, lately.
It’s almost as if I’m witnessing people become fatigued with their own wokeness. When it seems too extravagant or inconvenient for people to ask me my pronouns, they will simply default to they/them, and leave it at that.
I have been repeatedly misgendered throughout my adult life, with adults and children approaching me to ask whether I’m a boy or a girl. I have also on a few occasions, been told I look like a dude, or outright mistaken for being one. For the most part, these mistakes, observations, and curious inquiries have been genuine, and they haven’t been accompanied by harassment or hatred-even when it’s happened in countries where homosexuality is illegal. So, in most cases I have not taken offense, or interpreted it as something negative.
I also have never felt the need to correct people when they are uncertain or mistaken about my gender. If it’s a man, I probably won’t engage with him at all, for my own self-preservation. But when it’s a woman or a child, I like to keep them guessing. Sometimes, when it’s a child who asks what I am, I’ll engage her critical thinking skills and respond with a question, “What do you think?” And I’ve always received the same response:
“I think you’re a girl,”
“Okay,” I’ll nod.
So when people they/them me without a hint of curiosity, I give a similar response, which is usually on the spectrum of nothingness. I keep to myself, let people think what they want, and remove myself from the situation.
I don’t fussily raise my hands up and say “OH NOOO, I’m a SHE/HER! You can’t call ME a they/them/he/him! YEW misgendered me! This is violence! Black Lives Matter! Wo0o0o I’m gonna make your life miserable if you don’t do what I say!”.
I don’t have the sense of entitlement that a lot of trans-identified males have in public spaces. Most of the time, I am just trying to protect my energy in these situations, and get through my day. I understand that people’s usage of they/them pronouns for me is based on their own fears and projections, that it can be ‘well-intentioned’, and it’s nothing personal.
I also understand that in the Western world, the word ‘woman’ and all qualifying words and pronouns such as ‘she/her’ and ‘mother’ have become akin to slurs when they are used to reference actual women. This cultural shift is often reinforced by women.
Read the full piece on Substack