Home > Uncategorized > I Believe in Respect

I Believe in Respect

This isn’t something that’s happened recently, but I thought I’d bring it up because it is very important.  In discussing trans* with people you get a lot of different reactions, even among people who are relatively accepting.  I’ve had my fair share of explaining that no, you can’t just tell if someone is trans (or queer in general), you are supposed to refer to them by their true (identified) gender, etc. to people who were more or less willing to listen.  But there is one response I’ve received that bothers me tremendously:  “It all depends on what you believe.”

What?

Here’s the thing; beliefs about what gender is and isn’t, what it entails, and what determines it vary greatly even among people of the same background, culture, faith, whathaveyou.  Your beliefs will affect how you view your gender, and what it means to you, and where it comes from.  Note I say YOUR gender.  Because guess what, when other people become involved, your beliefs mean jack shit.  I don’t care where you get your views from; you don’t get to determine other people’s identity.

Let’s put it this way:  when you meet someone new, they tell you who they are.  Not the other way around.  Imagine meeting someone and saying “OK, you like cats, and seafood, and go drinking on Friday nights but not too much, and your dream as a child was to sing opera professionally.”  People would leave.  You would be an ass.  It works the same way with everything.  Yes, even gender.  You don’t get to tell me what I am.  Neither does the doctor, or the government.  I tell you who I am.  Because no one knows more about the subject than me, you don’t get to make clarifications.

It’s about respect for other people.  So when you meet someone and they say “I am a man/woman/neuter/spacething/whatever”, instead of checking their pants or birth certificate, just say “nice to meet you.”  I think it’s a pretty simple principle.

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  1. chartreuseflamethrower
    July 20, 2010 at 05:54

    I really dislike the idea that someone’s belief system is allowed to overrule who someone else is. Especially because this is only directed at marginalized groups- if someone came up to a cis woman and told her she was a man, she’d have full support of society to put that person in their place. If someone comes up to a trans woman and tells her she’s a man, the other person would have the full support of society- the woman would be in the “wrong” for reasserting her gender. The double standard makes this a busted and offensive concept. It’d be one thing if everyone could go around randomly assigning genders to everyone they meet- but only trans people are supposed to accept “My beliefs disagree with who you are, so my beliefs are what matter”.

    I had a friend who insisted that “lady” to faabs (people assigned female at birth, I say this because this was even AFTER I told him I wasn’t a woman) was a term of respect. I constantly told him to stop using it at me- I did not like it and did not wish to be called that. He justified it with “But it’s how I show my respect!”. Going against someone’s wishes does NOT show them respect- it shows a disregard for their feelings and individuality.
    The only way I can see that as at all “respectful” is if you talk to that person, explain to them why you want to use that, and get the OK from that person to use it (and if they say “But only you are allowed to”, make it clear when you use it around other people that you got specific permission).

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