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Gender identification Etiquette

(36 Posts)
Bridgeit Mon 07-May-18 09:38:00

Should we be more relaxed about getting gender identifying titles wrong?
Listening to two transgender people on the news this morning in which one person was very relaxed & said they(they & them is a suggested alternative to he or she) dont take offensive if they are addressed by their non preferred title, the other believed we should all make a greater effort to make sure we all use the correct gender identifying titles ,of which there are quite a few. I think that perhaps it would be better to drop titles all together or at least be more lighthearted about it. Are titles really that crucial other than when needed on documents.? Do we really need to be so rigid about it, surely a friendly lighthearted approach would be more advantageous to everyone.

maryeliza54 Mon 07-May-18 10:16:48

I like what the Quakers do - they just refer to someone as Jane Smith. My general rule is to use the title the person themselves prefers - at work I’m Mrs ..... but other women prefer Ms. What usually happens at my work is that we check what title people want to be introduced by. So I suppose I’m saying find out off camera or in some other way their preferences It’s not just an issue for transgender people - many women don’t see why they should have to choose when man have the all purpose Mr. When it comes to using a pronoun, I try not to misgender, again to be polite. I did work once years ago with a transsexual woman and I always thought of her as female and had real respect for what she had been through and still went through in terms of harassment and discrimination. But I have to say that if a SI woman got out HIS penis in front of me in my woman only space, I would shout ‘get HIM out of here’ Basically I have no respect at all for TRA who treat biological women as obstacles in their way to world domination. Hummm - overall a tricky one

wildswan16 Mon 07-May-18 10:20:55

A few people just like to feel "victimised". How are we supposed to know what "title" they would like. Unfortunately they are the ones who make the most fuss and commotion until organisations give in to their demands.

Whilst married with three children I have been addressed as Miss - should I have taken offence at being labelled an unmarried mother?

winterwhite Mon 07-May-18 10:40:24

Trouble is, they/them for individuals is intuitively wrong. Think how very early children learning to speak automatically get he/she right when talking to a man or a woman. It would take a very long time before ‘Pass they the butter’, came readily to the lips, and IMO unreasonable for offence to be taken.

It’s a bit like a person switching to using another first name, fairly common on marriage because spouse can’t stand the original name. The person’s own family find the change quite impossible despite trying valiantly, original name remains in use within the family and the person puts up with it reasonably cheerfully. No one regards it as any sign of lack of affection or disrespect. I know two cases of this.

So, yes I do think too much is made of this.

maryeliza54 Mon 07-May-18 10:49:39

I don’t think your comment is entirely fair wildswan. It’s not about being victimised, it’s about being polite. There are lots of easy ways of ensuring you use the preferred title or simply avoid using the wrong one. In everyday life, it’s generally easy. I remember years ago when people thought it was fine to say to eg an Asian person with a long name ‘I’ll just call you .....(some abbreviation) ‘ Said with a laugh and putting the other person in a difficult position. These days I can’t remember the last time that I heard such crass behaviour ( which frankly has racist overtones). When I’m meeting a colleague( of any ethnicity) for the first time with a ‘foreign’ name that I don’t know how to pronounce I simply ask them - it’s called being polite and is hardly rocket science. I do envy languages like French or Spanish with their Madame, Senora etc but even there, people have to get it right as to when Madamoiselle becomes Madame even when not married

Elrel Mon 07-May-18 10:51:09

Maryeliza - I agree with you and the Society of Friends about dropping titles all together. It's very irritating to find so many online sites insist on a title. When I have to use one I put Ms but realised the pitfalls in the 1980s. As a teacher new to the school I wrote Ms Blank on the board as I introduced myself to the class.
A hand shot up 'You've left the r out of Mrs., Miss!' Said a helpful pupil.
Older pupils asked me why I used it and were satisfied with 'Miss means a woman is unmarried, Mrs. means she is married and Ms means it's no one else's business.' They got it!
Re pronouns, as far as I'm concerned a person can be 'she', 'he' or 'they' as preferred but shouldn't get upset at innocent mistakes. Deliberate mistakes are another matter.

maryeliza54 Mon 07-May-18 10:57:00

I think using the ‘wrong’ first name is a different issue - the transgender issue is all wrapped up with attitudes towards transgenderism. If someone is presenting as woman, is not impinging on women’s spaces and rights, then if someone misgenders them, I do have to wonder what is really going on. That’s very different from the wrong first name being used in a family ( although sometimes there is a hidden agenda there as well)

Elrel Mon 07-May-18 10:57:07

Winter - if a child wants to play with a group of other children they* can manage ''Can I play with them?' easily enough.

* meaning 'he or she'!

maryeliza54 Mon 07-May-18 10:59:55

Elrel good post - the problem can be however that ’innocent’ mistakes are often anything but ... have you heard the one about the Tory councillor who innocently pressed share rather than delete with a filthy racist joke ( oh sorry HQ TAAT)

winterwhite Mon 07-May-18 11:42:33

Sorry if I didn’t make myself clear, Elrel. Of course children wanting to play with other children would say ‘them’. To continue your example, a very small child wanting to play with an individual child Jack or Jill would automatically say ‘I want to play with him’ or ‘I want to play with with her’, and not make a mistake from a very young age, meaning, to me anyway, that gender pronouns are engrained.
I think that the OP was about pronouns rather than about Miss/Mrs/Ms, which is not an issue, and was not really much of one beyond a bit of scoffing when Ms was first introduced.
Repeat that this is not about deliberately ignoring people’s wishes but expecting tolerance of mistakes.

Iam64 Mon 07-May-18 11:45:32

It's interesting to me that winter white knows two people who changed their first names because the new spouse didn't like their original name. The only people I know who have changed their first name, did so because they'd never felt it suited them. One waited until her parents were dead, the other talked it over with her parents and elected to use her given middle name.
As for titles, I am a Ms and use my original last name although I've been happily married for getting on 40 years. I've used "they" for a long time, largely to avoid using "he" to describe groups of people.
I've enjoyed being Madame and Ma'am in other countries and would like a similar generic name for women to be in use here.
as for getting gender identifying titles, I ask what people like to be called. Like maryeliza, I worked in an environment where it was common for children and adults with 'foreign' names to be given an English name, even one with no similarity at all to their given name. Thankfully, that doesn't happen any longer. We can make similar progress with gender identifying titles though - what about one title for everyone to simplyfy things. Ms maybe?

maryeliza54 Mon 07-May-18 11:51:54

I do agree about tolerance of mistakes - IF it’s a) really a mistake or b) not just laziness. Sadly ......

Ilovecheese Mon 07-May-18 12:06:54

I agree about asking people which title or pronoun people would prefer to be called by and using that.
I have also never heard of someone changing their first name because their partner did not like the original. If a man had wanted me to change my first name on his say so, I don't think I would have married him, it would feel like the first step towards total control.

Galen Mon 07-May-18 12:21:27

I have a trans son/daughter.
They sang bass in the choir. They have very male bone structure.
They gat very upset when called sir over the phone!

winterwhite Mon 07-May-18 12:47:05

Iam64, one person is over 80 and the other is dead. In both cases the name was an old-fashioned, but not absurdly so, name in memory of someone from an even older generation. In one case the future husband changed to please his future wife, in the other it was the woman who changed.
Point I was making is that in both cases the parents and siblings of the name-changer had used the original name for 20+ years, tried with the best will in the world to adapt, but just could not do so. Partly I think because it sounded unnatural when referring to him/her within the family circle.

I conclude from that re pronouns, wh is what the post is about, that I would find it very difficult to adapt to referring to an individual as ‘they,’ and that this would not be laziness but depend on how often I was in the person’s company.

baubles Mon 07-May-18 13:39:34

I have also never heard of someone changing their first name because their partner did not like the original

Ilove an Aunt of mine did just that. She moved abroad with her husband and in her adopted country she was known as the nickname he preferred while her family at home continued to call her by the variant of her given they had always used. He was a controlling so and so.

OldMeg Mon 07-May-18 14:29:36

I don’t personally know any transgender people (yet). If I do one day I’ll try to call them ‘he or she’ etc. as theynprefer as best I can. If I get confused and accidentally make a muddle of it then I hope they’ll understand and we’ll rub along fine together, if they don’t and make a big issue of it then that’s their problem.

Iam64 Mon 07-May-18 15:48:31

Sorry for assuming both the people you know who changed their names to please a partner were female winter white. That was a telling mistake for me to make on a discussion about trans people and how they choose to name their chosen gender.
Most of us will have been young adults when homosexuality at age 21 was made legal. My parents saw it as a radical move. They were more liberal than many of their generation but expressed concern that homosexual men would attempt to seduce young men, who otherwise would be heterosexual. Those attitudes are no more, thankfully and 25 years later, wouldn't have been believed by my parents either. Attitudes change and it's likely our grandchildren will be unfazed by a more fluid approach to gender and sexuality.

winterwhite Tue 08-May-18 07:31:37

I thought it interesting myself when I thought about it properly for the first time, wh was yesterday.

knickas63 Wed 09-May-18 00:06:42

The vast majority are being backed into a corner by the minority. I am more then happy to accept a transgener persons new gender. I do however object to the very small amount of none binary people who appear to be trying to force gender ambiguity on everyone, whether they like it or not. And I totally dispair at what seems to be a growing trend of 'not forcing a gender' on children. To my mind that is tantamount to trying to invalidate the feelings of the majority of people.

Bridgeit Wed 09-May-18 09:44:34

I think what I despair of most is that in an attempt for everyone to have the ‘right’ to be, identify etc who or what ever we like, we are actually bringing about another dimension of prejudice, as in any opinion given that doesn’t fit any given trend or opinion will be jumped on instantly as abhorrent & very nearly criminal to express such an opinion,if you see what I mean?

Eglantine21 Wed 09-May-18 09:54:48

We could just use the non gender specific “it” I suppose. And no titles at all. I can’t actually see why we need them.

Elegran Wed 09-May-18 10:04:57

Bridgeit The attitude "I have the right to express an opinion that seems confrontational to you, but if you express one that I don't like, I shall throw a paddy and accuse you of being offensive" ?

stella1949 Wed 09-May-18 10:12:56

In my nursing life I often noticed that the worst people for "taking offense at the wrong title" were elderly single ladies who would get really angry if called "Mrs". I've known them to become really rude, correcting the speaker as if they were purposely insulting the lady by calling her Mrs. I guess they took a lot of pride in having spent their lives without a partner, and didn't want to be lumped in with all the married women.

So I can attest to the fact that taking offense at the "wrong" title isn't a new phenomenon.

Bridgeit Wed 09-May-18 10:59:28

Elegran in my clumsy way I was trying to say whilst we are all being intolarent to predjudices & being carful of language we use so as not to offend, that at times the reverse happens where we are so stymied that we can cause offence by trying not to. In other words we will all be afraid to voice an opinion in case it causes offence, which possibly my last post did to you