Pronoun Slip

I know I have a very.. untraditional view of gender. The experience of acting like a gender I wasn’t, then physically transitioning from one sex to the other has given me a very different view of gender than most of society (Mostly the non-queer part of society). So it’s not uncommon that I’m left scratching my head at what others assure me is a “normal response” for a typical person. There is one such thing in particular that has happened a few times in the past weeks that have me especially confused.

I have many dear friends who have known me for years and years, especially many of my friends from Millersville University. A few of these friends have known me so long, they knew me before I transitioned. Some of these friends had to actively unlearn calling me by my male name and male pronouns, and train themselves into using female pronouns and my new name, Ashe (before I felt brave enough to go by Ashley in public). I knew it wasn’t easy for them, and I really appreciated how much effort so many of my friends then put into using the right name and pronoun. However, it was still hard when I would be hosting some event and a close friend would introduce me and accidently use the wrong pronoun. I understood, and I absolutely forgave them, but it was still difficult, embarrassing, and sometimes, dangerous if I was in a bathroom or some other fiercely segregated area like that.

Now, almost 3 years later, I am very comfortable with my gender expression. I feel confident I pass well enough to live peacefully as a woman. It’s my choice if and when to tell people I am transgender. I’ve mentioned that this is the case at work; only a few people know explicitly I am trans. When I walk down the street, everyone reads me as female, guys flirt, girls chit chat. I am incredibly happy I am finally at this point. There is a very rare occasion where, based on my voice or some other tell, someone will read me as male, but such occurances are very far and few between.

A couple of times in the past few months, I’ve been very confused to hear people who have only known me for the past 5 months, seem to slip up and use a male pronoun for me. I’m not super offended, but I have been very startled to hear male pronouns from people who have only known me as Ashley, who have never seen me as anything but female. It makes me question why? I understand when people from Millersville will still slip on pronouns every once in a blue moon, but I’m confused when this happens from people who never knew me then. It’s not that I’m angry, I know these people see me as a woman. I just don’t understand.. why?

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3 Comments

  1. Something I have discovered as I paid more attention to how people communicate and what they feel inside…. often what people say, especially in something like this, its not about you. In fact it could be that the person whom used the wrong pronoun didn’t even notice they did or doesn’t regard gender as anything important. They may slip with other cisgender people, even. Maybe they just don’t regard gender as all that important and get them mixed up themselves…. or maybe they just mis-spoke…. maybe they mis-spoke than realized you were likely offended and sensitive about it… Often what people do and say is not about you, rather its about them interacting with their world and how they see it.

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  2. Anonymous

     /  May 1, 2012

    sometimes I’ll accidentally say he when referring to a woman or she when referring to a man, and i’ll know i don’t purposely mean the wrong pronoun, it just comes out. there is no reason it happens other than the fact that i just used the wrong word. well, maybe it’s because he means person and she means person, and yes, gender does matter to people, but a slip up happens just because i’m not always concentrating on their gender that much or pronouns, because i’m distracted.

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

     /  May 1, 2012

    i agree with the first comment, actually

    Reply

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