Being misgendered feels like getting stabbed in the back, even when people don’t do it on purpose. I’ve learned to live with that pain, it’s something I experience every day, and I will face it for the rest of my life. Some people knew me before I came out, some people have only known me since I have come out and have only been told the correct pronouns. It doesn’t matter when people meet me, nor how many times I correct people, I am always misgendered. Most of the time, I correct people and pull off a small laugh to try to make them feel more comfortable. It’s awkward; it hurts, I hate it. I hate being mistaken for someone I’m not. I am not defined by my chest, my voice, nor anything else that can physically be seen. I am who I say I am, yet it continues to happen, people have an ingrained need to sort people into the gender binary.
Every time I correct someone, I always get the same response. “You’ll have to forgive me.” “You have to understand how hard it is.” “It will take some time for me to adjust.” “This is new to me.” “You can’t blame me.” “They’re old; they don’t understand.” I know how hard it is. I am patient. I have no other choice than to be patient. I hate it. I did not change my pronouns because I thought it would be fun or easy. I have not put up with over two years of this because I thought it was fun or trendy or whatever people say to try to invalidate me and those like me. Honestly, my stomach is turning from the thought of people reading this and seeing the impact of a small mistake, but someone needs to say it. Trust me, every time you misgender a trans person and they say it’s alright and/or don’t correct you does not mean it’s all right. We excuse it because we don’t want to hurt the other person but in turn, we hurt ourselves more. What other choice is there than to say it’s okay? It’s a habit on both sides, the misgendering and forgiving and that needs to change!
An original version of this post appeared on Great School Voices.
Ash Whipple is a senior at Oakland Technical High School and is part of the computer academy as well as a leader of the robotics team. As a student and a leader, Ash feels that it is their responsibility to clear a path to a better future for others like them.
Ash is transgender, and pronouns are they/them.