I had an interesting case of being misgendered recently. It was interesting, because the only thing that I can really think of that triggered it, was the fact that i was not particularly coy about having an opinion.
I was being a bit of a bitch, I was in a store, they’d changed a membership program that I’ve always paid into, and in some respects, not for the negative. It just somewhat stuck with me, that they were changing it, and I didn’t like it. So I was vocal about it. I said I don’t like it. I said I don’t want to change, and was somewhat assertive about it.
Which is apparently far too masculine a thing to do, because then the he and him started.
I’ve talked about it before, but one of the elements of my transition that I have struggled with is sexism. This is really just a different outcome then usual.
Often what happens is I’m perceived as a woman, thus when I act in accordance with my own desires and not of those around me I’m the one who is hurt when I am suddenly and viscerally put into my place. It’s an internal problem for me, and something that I have to deal with the consequences of. Because people do not like a woman with an expectation of respect.
In this case, what happened was there were no real consequences, they just took my femininity. They denied my womanhood because I dared to have a meaningless opinion and stick to it. Not out of some designed attack on my womanhood, but by merely accepting my somewhat ridiculous stance on a meaningless topic, but they only accepted it and moved on because they had labelled me as male.
So I must now contend with the fact that my options whenever I assert myself are to experience sexism, or transphobia. If I’m too assertive then I’m too male, I’m too masculine, I’m not a real woman. If I accept my proper role in society and stay silent when I could speak up I’m propagating sexist ideals.
I know this is a conflict most women face, that dilemma between standing up for yourself and being abused, or enjoying some peace in your day and being disrespected. What is different for me is that I don’t get to hold onto being ‘that kind of woman’ when I stand out for expecting better. I’m not an angry feminist. My womanhood is denied and I’m placed upon some male throne momentarily. Much like most trans exclusionary feminists accuse trans women of doing. The uncomfortable truth about this. Is that I don’t get to choose when this happens. Nor do I enjoy it when it does.
It’s decimating to me that someone sees me as a man for expressing an opinion. You know how many terrible things that means for our society? I don’t have an exact answer but a lot. It means a lot of terrible things for us as a society that assertiveness is so masculine a trait that it overshadows my entire presentation in the eyes of others.
It’s not right, and it’s harmful for all of us.