LGBTQ Magazine

Beyond the Binary: Question Seventeen

By Cnlester @cnlester

Last question for the week – see you again on Monday. Panel bios here. 


Question Seventeen:

If someone identifies as genderqueer and firmly not {their assigned birth gender}, but prefers pronouns that match their assigned-at-birth gender, and goes by a matchingly gendered name, then in what way are you supposed to act or talk differently to them compared to a cis person? 
Failing any other insights I’ve gone with ‘don’t assume anything about them based on either gender or non-binaryness, do not apply any gendered terms to them beyond pronouns (e.g. ‘ladies/gents’,’female/male’) unless they specifically communicate that you should’ but I try to I do that for all peoples anyway because bleurgh, the gender binary, fuck that stuff. Am I missing anything? It feels like it should be a bigger divide between cis and not, but maybe it’s not such a big deal? 


Jennie: I go by whatever pronouns people feel like usng for me at the time – I honestly don’t care – and I keep the name I’ve had all my life because it’s my name, damn it, and why the hell should I change it? So I probably fall into this category. The answer for me is that I’m fairly difficult to offend but I can do without people (hospital staff are the worst) calling me a ‘good girl’, or interviewers asking for my perspective ‘as a woman’, or well-intentioned folk describing me as a ‘lovely lady’. I shall always try to be nice about it but, quite honestly, that stuff makes me want to vomit. If you don’t kow, fair enough. If you do, show a bit of respect. If you screw up accidentally, say ‘Oops’. It’s that simple.


CN: I have to say, I find ‘It feels like there should be a bigger divide between cis and not’ and ‘in what way are you supposed to act or talk differently to them compared to a cis person?’ quite telling when it comes to how entrenched our ideas of ‘cis’ and ‘trans’ are – and that linked and horrible idea of being ‘trans enough’. Your approach sounds great – why would you need to do anything more? Not making assumptions, being polite and letting people communicate their own story as and when they want to is certainly how I’d want to be treated.



Hel: I think what you’re doing sounds spot-on – but if you’re worried about particular people/instances, why not check with the people in question and see what they’d prefer?

(And I think you’re right that genderqueer/gender-fluid/non-binary frequently do trouble the boundary between ‘cis’ and ‘trans’ – which is no bad thing.)


Nat: I think this depends on the individual and how they conceive of and relate to gender, gender roles and gendered language. Your approach sounds sensible, especially the part about applying this to all peoples :)


GrrlAlex: Social groups need to have commonality of understanding and social norms and rules.  Changing these is incremental and through mass consensus – the idea that ordinary people in the street could handle not making an assumption about anyones identity is so far removed from where we are at that energies are perhaps better invested in creating an initial awareness that gender and biological sex may be at odds and this is a natural phenomenon not a perversion or dellusion.

Filed under: trans

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