The Trauma of Being Misgendered
Misgendering can be very harmful to the health and wellness of trans individuals. It can affect their health care, mental health, and social wellbeing. Despite the knowledge of the pain misgendering can cause, it is still a widespread occurrence. This article will cover the harm misgendering can cause, along with steps you can take to avoid misgendering other people.
What is Misgendering?
Misgendering occurs when one addresses another individual using terms associated with a gender they do not identify with. Whether the individual doing the misgendering does it intentionally or not, misgendering is quite harmful to the wellbeing of individuals- particularly to those who identify as trans, nonbinary, or gender nonconforming. A person normally associates specific physical attributes to being male or female. These assumptions leave trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming individuals vulnerable to harmful gender assumptions that typically lead to misgendering.
How Misgendering is Harmful
Coming into the gender that one identifies with can be difficult for many individuals. When a person has worked to accept themselves as the gender they identify with, misgendering them can be a massive blow to their self-esteem and overall mental health. According to a study in which transgender people were asked about instances in which they were misgendered, the participants reported feeling stigmatized and dealing with lower confidence about their identity and appearance.
The Importance of Using the Correct Pronouns
Pronouns can be incredibly validating for individuals who are coming into their identity. Accepting one's identity can be difficult for both the individual and their friends and family. Using the correct pronouns when addressing trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people can help the individual feel validated in their identity.
How You Can Prevent Misgendering
The biggest thing you can do to help end misgendering is to take precautions to prevent misgendering other people yourself. A few steps you can take to avoid misgendering are:
Ask what gender the person identifies with! Falling into the habit of asking others what they identify as before assuming their gender can be a huge step to prevent misgendering. This way, you make sure you are getting a person's gender right.
Address every individual correctly. Every person deserves to be addressed with the name and pronouns they identify with. Give every person that respect, whether they be your friend, family member, colleague, or even people you might not like.
Avoid using gender-specific language unless you know the people you are addressing prefer it. There are a few terms in our language that are typically used to refer to specific genders. If you are unsure of the identities of the people you are addressing, try to avoid terms like "ladies and gentleman," "sir," or "ma'am".
Misgendering can be extremely harmful to an individual's mental health. Be the change in the world and make an effort to avoid misgendering others. With avoiding misgendering being as simple as asking what a person identifies as, the effort is worth it to protect trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people's mental health and wellness.
If you are dealing with the trauma of being repeatedly and intentionally misgendered, we have support services. At Rhapsody Behavioral Healthcare, we have a counselor who identifies and queer and works with trans-identifying clients. Contact us today if you would like to schedule a consultation with her.