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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » What are your criteria?

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Author Topic: What are your criteria?
Member # 802

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When confronted with someone whose gender you're uncertain of, how do you make the call? What makes a woman? Breasts, a hairless face, a dress? Do you feel comfortable calling a transexual or transvestite "she" (or for female to male, "he") ?

I guess in my own experience, I've tried to avoid gendered pronouns until I know which sex they identify with. Then, even if I don't think of this person as a man/woman, I will use he/she out of consideration.

Posts: 582 | From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lisa D
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That's a hard one...Typically, I look for the adam's apple - that's helped me out on more situations than I can remember!

Posts: 442 | From: Dublin, OH USA | Registered: Jul 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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Well, since I dated soemone who was intergendered for a while, and E preferred the Spivak set of pronouns, I tend to default to using them when I don't know someone's gender. However, when they're spoken, E can sound kinda like he... so hopefully people don't think I'm asusming the masculine!

If I feel comfortable enough with someone and I think that they won't be offended, I tend to ask them what pronouns they'd like to be referred to by. One of my friends who is not intergendered but exploring some gender issues of eir own prefers that I refer to em with the Spivak pronouns even though most people who would see em would immediately mark em as male.


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I try to avoid gender pronouns (which works damn well in german) until I know what the person personally identifies with or until I think I can ask about it.

In general though, once someone has indicated what gender (s)he is, I don't have a prob with it, at all. Sure, sometimes I need to remind myself, so that I don't slip up, but that has never been a problem, really.

The only problem I have encountered though, has been over the phone, really. While looking after my moms bookshop a while back, the motherboard died, and I called the puter shop to come and pick it up. So I was on the phone, with someone with a distinctivly male voice, and at the end of the call I am like "And your name was Mr. ?" And the person on the other end corrects me and says Mrs. and a female name. And when she later came into the shop to pick up the puter, it's quite obvious that she was mtf transgendered and I really felt like an idiot for making gender an issue over the phone. So these days, I just ask "and your name was?", just to be neutral about gender.

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[This message has been edited by Alaska (edited 06-14-2001).]

Posts: 4526 | From: germany | Registered: Nov 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 3023

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Hmm. Well, I try to stay somewhat neutral since I know all kinds of people and it generally isn't a huge issue with me. If I see that someone is obviously identifying with a certain gender, then it's not a big deal for me to note that and use the appropriate pronouns. It did take a bit of adjusting with my first transgendered friend, but now everything is fine, and I basically just wait for it to come up somehow (it's bound to) and take off from there.

Where I do get a little bit confused is with transvestites--I know two. One definitely identifies as male 100% of the time, even if he is dressed up. So I just decided in my brain somewhere that that was the way to deal with it. Well, not so! I am still trying to adjust to referring to the second person as she... So I REALLY think that you can't have any rules about this stuff because it's all a very delicate and personal thing and so I just figure I'll see what people are comfortable with me saying and doing and go from there.

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I also look for the Adam's Apple. Guys tend to have a bigger one then females.
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Member # 406

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At youth group I was sitting with a friend (PixieDust, actually) and I saw a very cute person sitting indian style reading a magazine in their lap. The person was wearing baggy jeans, a tank top (their position made it hard for me to look for boobs), and a bandanda which covered closely cut hair. Was this person a girl or a guy? So I ask PixieDust and she practically hits me upside my head saying "duh, she's a girl. look at her hands, they're very small and delicate". and so they were, and she ended up being a girl after all (and had I been able to see her whole face I would have been able to tell for myself).

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Member # 1950

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i usually listen until someone else uses a pronoun then use that one myself. when all else fails i ask the person which pronoun they would like to be refered to with. i have occationally used E and slurred it a bit, hoping the person would hear wichever pronound thye liked...

"-and i hope i'm not shooting my mouth off...again...and i pray i'm not tempting the fates....."
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Posts: 219 | From: lost in yonkers | Registered: Nov 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 3284

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I haven't ever really been in a situation where I've seen someone who was cross-gendered or whatever you want to call it...But the whole thing makes no sense to me, and I think if I were in that sort of situation, rather than making myself and the person feel embarassed by calling them the wrong thing I would just flat out ask them what they were, even if they were a stranger. But personally, I don't understand why we even have to have issues like this in our world where we have to figure out what gender some cross dresser is. It just adds to all the other chaos in our world and we could definitly do without it. If someone is one sex and prefers to look like the other than they should totally go for it and make themselves look convincible enough as to not cause confusion for other people
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Executive Director & Founder
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Many people in the world look androgynous without adapting their appearnce in any way on their own.

A dramatic example is a woman who used to work in a bookstore I frequented, who had facial hair so prominent, she literally had a beard. She chose not to shave it every day, because she felt that the beard was a part of her, and didn't feel she had to conform for anyone else's benefit. Same goes for men I have known who had little to no body hair and long hair on their heads.

I really suggest you read up on some of this, ans some of the assumpptions you are working on simply aren't accurate.

Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson

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