WOKE MISGENDERING Chapter II: The Well-Meaning Idiots

26/11/2023 Θεία Λειτουργεία - DISCLAIMER: At some point at the time of writing of this series I got very, very busy and ended up not closing it up with the third part. You're welcome to use your imagination to fill in the blanks. Perhaps at some point I'll feel inspired to come in and finish it up. In any case, I find that the first part of the series was easily the more insightful and useful piece, and I highly encourage you read that one. This one is more optional, it's less fleshed-out and just less of a pleasure to read. Happy Misgendering! - Ana, March 3rd 2024

Welcome to the second chapter of the Woke Misgendering blogpost series! I’m your host, Tranny Mendelssohn, and I beg you a thousand pardons for my lateness in releasing this post. I intended to have the whole series out within the space of two weeks. That was two weeks ago. Things got extremely busy with assignments, tests, and concerts, so I have simply not had the time. But now I am caught up on my work and my blogging fingies are primed and ready.

In the last instalment of this series we discussed the phenomenon of woke misgendering, its origins in the political climate of the mid- to late-2010s, and the way that misrepresentation by activists solidified matters by sending the message that the act of theying someone is inherently progressive and pro-queer (think of wannabe-woke cis people deflecting criticism for misgendering a trans person by saying “oh no I just call everyone they” as if that’s a progressive one-up that absolves them of any wrongdoing in misgendering someone). In this chapter, we will move on to describing some of the ways in which theoretically-well-meaning cis people use the act of theying to deny binary trans people their manhood or womanhood, and cover their transphobia with a shallow emulation of progressiveness.

But first, I must break my rule of political impartiality and non-involvement (like the Queen) and issue a response to a current wave of discourse that I have seen on Twitter dot com. Lately the hip attitude with the people has been to treat the idea of a ‘binary’ trans person as some sort of reactionary wrongthink, and while I think most of it is unrelated to my blogpost, some of it has come from mutuals who could have possibly read what I wrote, and so I feel a certain compulsion to elaborate a little bit for the glue-eaters among you. Do I think that there is such a thing as a ‘binary trans person’? Yes and no. In my personal opinion, no trans person is truly 10000% ‘binary’ or free from non-binariness; even traversing the gender binary from one side to another involves a certain freedom from its constraints. It’s not like I’m saying binary trans people fit perfectly into narrow stereotypical cishet-designated gender boxes; our gender identities are complicated, messy, varied, in the same way that no person, cis or otherwise, truly fits every single aspect of their gender identity and personality into one gendered box. But anyway, this is completely beside the point. The point here is that there are trans people that identify as non-binary, and there are trans people who do not, and this second category is what I’m referring to when I use the term ‘binary trans person’. I am a woman; it’s an identity that is as messy and category-defying as any other woman’s identity, but a woman still I am. I think many people have a knee-jerk reaction of anger upon hearing the word “binary” with regards to gender, because they immediately think of narrow, restrictive boxes that people have to squeeze themselves into to avoid experiencing homophobia and transphobia. So please consider for a moment that there is no convenient way, for the purposes of my posts, to refer to trans people who consider themselves to be men or women, use he/him or she/her exclusively, and do not identify as non-binary. “Transsexual man/woman” doesn’t work at all, because one can be a transsexual while still being non-binary. “Transgender man/woman” doesn’t work because many trans men and women I know also consider themselves to be non-binary and have multiple sets of pronouns (cf. theyfabmoders). The bottom line is I would rather discuss the slightly loaded term that is “binary trans person” – trusting my audience to understand the nuance and interpret it in good faith – than have to write out “transgender person who does not consider themselves to be non-binary” every time. The categories of binary and non-binary in gender are messy, bleed over into each other, and defy real rigorous description; but at the same time, if I’m writing about the problems faced by trans men/women (full stop) as opposed to problems faced by non-binary people, surely I should be justified in using a term which is defined in opposition to non-binary. And no, I’m afraid non-non-binary is not an option.

Well-meaning cis people, usually libs (though we must acknowledge that this is also common behaviour on the left), have internalised this message of “binary gender = drumpf nazi, nonbinary = woke based and good” to the point that they will always default to theying any person with a recognisably non-cishet gender. This allows them an easy way of denying binary trans people their gender while maintaining a surface-level veneer of progressiveness. It could be argued that cis people simply don’t know what different types of trans people look like and prefer to hedge their bets when they can tell there’s some non-cisness going on, but I think this just makes the intentional denial of our genders even more clear. There’s a little bit of a cognitive dissonance here, no? In their minds and their speech they are denying trans women their womanhood, gatekeeping us from the gender category where we belong, even as they TRULY BELIEVE that they are being a step more progressive by theying us and are thus absolved of any wrongdoing (sola fide reference! sola fide reference!). This justification through faith alone causes real problems. They truly believe that they are being a step more progressive than us by hitting us with the they/them, an imaginary moral high ground which gives them a smug self-assuredness. Have you ever tried to call out a cis person who considers themselves to be an ally for misgendering someone? Sometimes it’s fine, but most of the time it is HELL. Backed up by their imaginary moral high ground, they permit themselves to contradict and speak over the trans person trying to confront them, assured that they know what’s truly best and progressive, and this person talking to them holds reactionary beliefs. They will be extremely offended at the implication that their misgendering of a trans person is transphobic; after all, they, a sworn wokeoid, could not possibly be transphobic! Their feeling offended and persecuted will cause them to resist changing their ways. They are so convinced of their own trans-positivity that they will completely ignore the trans people who try to correct their transphobia.

If they’re marginally less hardheaded, they’ll try to plead to a lesser offence by whipping out the tried-and-true “I just call everyone they by default!” - which, of course, has not even once in the course of human history been true. The most charitable possible interpretation of this excuse is “I’m misguided and have been conditioned by instagram infographics into instinctively othering all gender-nonconforming people”; the most realistic interpretation, however, is “Don’t worry, it’s not about you specifically! I call all trans people ‘they’, because I don’t actually see you as the gender you claim to be!”

And what is the effect of all this on trans people? Of course, it’s psychologically devastating, especially for the most vulnerable among us, i.e. the girls still in early transition and the very visible trans people (those that don’t ‘pass’ well according to cisnormative standards). The further along you get and the more comfortable in your body and yourself you get, the more you’re able to brush off being misgendered. But for the most vulnerable trans people, those who are still very dysphoric about their bodies, those who are trying to re-negotiate their relationship with the world, those who are working through internalised transphobia, it’s a nightmare. And all of us who experience this misgendering are left without any recourse that is acceptable in polite society. Confronting the so-called allies in question (which already involves something of a digression from social rules and leads trans women dangerously close to the territory in which they will be described as aggressive men for standing up for themselves; nobody wants to be the next gamestop tranny) results in nothing but excuses or arguments. And what is so incredibly frustrating about this is that the cis people in question will nonetheless CONTINUE to swear up and down that they are allies and care about the well-being of trans people, all while misgendering us every time they open their mouths. It’s enough to drive a woman mad! If these are the people who want the best for us, we are left to draw some exceedingly bleak conclusions about the state of the Overton window with regards to the trans rights issue.

There could be an alternative option which reduces the harm to zero, and indeed this is the way that most trans people interact with other trans people in the real world: to address visibly gender non-conforming people first with the pronoun diametrically opposite to that of their birth sex, and then switch to gender neutral pronouns if corrected. Trans people understand this: you do NOT want to be the person who misgenders a trans girl. You don’t want to risk causing her that psychic damage. So when someone is clearly obviously presenting feminine, but you can tell that she’s not AFAB, most trans people will default to gendering her female. Once again we could give the cis people the benefit of the doubt and assume that they don’t do that because they don’t really know what a trans woman looks like, but I find this to be a weak excuse. It’s a very simple rule: if someone is clearly trying to present as a woman, you address her as a woman, full stop, no caveats, whether she meets your cisnormative standards or not. And the reason why this is better than defaulting to ‘they’ actually lies with non-binary people themselves. Of the non-binary people you know, how many would be truly upset and dysphoric to be addressed as the opposite gender from their birth sex? Do you know many non-binary transmascs who would spiral in dysphoria at being addressed as ‘he’? Or non-binary transfems at being addressed as ‘she’? Of course, this isn’t to say that non-binary people would secretly prefer to be called ‘he’ or ‘she’ or whatever. But I can say with certainty that every non-binary person I know would at the very least be slightly amused at being addressed this way, and at most they would even be actively happy about it. Trans people know this; that’s why in trans spaces we mostly assume that people are trans women/trans men until proven otherwise. Once again, the problem here is that the so-called allies refuse to listen to actual trans people.

As we have discussed in Chapter I, all of this came about as a result of the flawed presentation of queer activist talking points (especially on social media) in the years following 2015-ish. In this chapter we’ve seen how supposedly well-meaning cis people who have fallen into this end up navigating the world of misgendering with a woker-than-thou attitude, permitting themselves to speak over trans people and act like authorities on these matters, feeling as though they are justified in doing so because of their own perceived moral high ground. To me, easily the most disturbing effect of both the flawed activist messaging and the way that cis people have taken it upon themselves to propagate it is the way that young trans people have completely eaten the bugs. Back in the late spring, there was an event for teenage queer people at Moishe House Côte-Des-Neiges, a chapter of the organisation run by friends of mine. Blair and I attended in sort of an organiser-chaperone capacity. While the main event was going on upstairs, Blair and I retreated to the basement to avoid the noise and chaos, where there were some 6-7 trans teenagers hanging out and playing Mario Kart. I was, at this point, over a year on HRT. I was wearing a long skirt and a cropped tank top, with winged liner and a bandana that showed off my curtain bangs and gave my hair a very feminine profile. At this point, no trans person my age or older would have any doubt whatsoever that I am a trans woman and would like to be addressed as ‘she’. Imagine my shock when these kids initiated a pronoun circle! And even after telling them that I am a trans woman, and my pronouns are she/her, they continued to go out of their way to refer to me as a ‘person’ rather than a girl, and Blair’s ‘partner’ rather than his girlfriend. When asked why they do that, they parroted the same lines that your clueless middle aged academic advisor does: “I don’t want to assume! It’s always best to ask! I call everyone they!”

he false equivalence of theying in all circumstances with progressiveness/queer-friendliness has been pushed so hard by “queer-friendly” cis people and faceless, nameless instagram infographics that it has become the dominant attitude with the under-18 demographic of trans people. This, to me, is an absolute disaster. For as much as we can call the increased push for trans rights a good thing, at least before we always spoke on our own behalf. Trans people expressed trans ideas. We didn’t let cis people take the reins on how we acted, thought about things, talked about things. This new development, to me, is troubling. The standard response is typically to point out that these kids are still young. As they grow, they will mature and change the way they act. Hanging out with real-life queer people in real-life queer spaces will show them how to act and sort of bring them into the real world. But as much as I am typically anti-doomerism about “the youths” (after all, as people love to point out, every generation loves to complain about the generation that comes after them), I am still very concerned. We cannot take it for granted that this will happen with this generation, for the same reason that wannabe-allies are so resistant to changing the way they talk about trans people. The most frequently-discussed quality of the teenage ‘tenderqueers’ by a significant margin, beyond the general over-sensitivity, black-and-white morality and language policing, is an unfathomable AUDACITY. People will marvel at the fact that these 14 year olds feel completely confident in their authority over people of any age and level of experience in queer spaces and communities. They don’t hesitate to jump on people and correct them for their “problematic” language, no matter how minor the infraction. This impermeable self-assuredness comes from the same place as it does for cis misgenderers as discussed earlier, that very same progressiver-than-thou moralising attitude that makes them feel like they have the moral high ground in all cases. The tenderqueers’ labelling of mundane things as ‘problematic’ is not projection, strictly speaking, but it does serve as a shield to protect themselves from any critique and from having to do any introspection about their behaviours; after all, how can my behaviours be bad if I’m the one always calling people out for being problematic! At the end of the day, I refuse to doomer too hard about it. Hopefully they will prove to be less incurably self-deluded than they seem to be and will eventually come around to normalcy. With things continuing to trend in this way, the prognosis is not great, but there’s not much we can do but wait and see in which way the tides turn.

In this chapter, we have discussed the way that the epidemic of WOKE MISGENDERING as described in Chapter I manifests itself through people whose views on queer people are broadly favourable, including young queers themselves. In the coming chapter, we will discuss how the contemporary attitude towards theying affects the way bigots (mostly transphobes and homophobes) interact with us. This has been a really long one, so thank you for sticking with me through it! See you in the next one.


Addendum: With regards to my friends’ chapter of the Moishe House, I would like to make clear in the context of current world events that all of the people involved with this particular chapter are queer, left-wing radically anti-zionist Jews. Anyone who knows anything about Moishe House knows that this is very out of character for a chapter of this particular organisation. The organisers for Moishe House in Montreal are actually sort of at a loss with what to do about the Côte-des-Neiges chapter; the highly queer and anti-zionist attitudes of the people involved are completely antithetical to the organisation’s usual attitudes, but at the same time, these are very smart, very religious Jewish queers, who know more about the faith than any of the other chapters in the city and encourage a rigorously intellectual study of it. It is because of this strong commitment to the religion that they are able to get away with their anti-zionism and queerness. In summary, I just wanted to assure my audiences that I am NOT hanging out with zionists

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