Column: Ask Gender Affinity


Zaynab E.

You had more questions and we are back to bring you more answers. 

This column answers questions posed by the Westridge community about gender. The purpose of this column is to inform. Because many of the issues and questions we will be dealing with are very nuanced, instead of having one answer per question—which could oversimplify the big picture and individual experiences of the trans community at Westridge —this column includes multiple answers from different members of Gender Affinity.

All contributors to this column are using pen names in order to maintain privacy and anonymity with respect to how out they are to members of the Westridge community, family, and outside friends.

With that in mind, we hope you find this column interesting and informative.

With love from, 

Niko, Blue,  JH, EL, Jaime, R, TN, and CranberryJuice (Gender Affinity)

This issue of Ask Gender Affinity will cover (traditionally) gendered words and how we feel about their use. 

I call people ‘dude,’ ‘bro,’ and ‘man;’ should I not do this to trans people? Should I ask? Would asking make it too big a deal and a double standard given that I call my cis gal friends ‘bro’ too?  I don’t want to make anyone dysphoric. 

I personally don’t think it matters, but I think if you aren’t sure if it would make someone uncomfortable then ask.-EL -JH

While some words have gendered origin, in which they were only used to describe one gender, such as dude or queen, language has evolved. If you are using a word with no intended gender meaning I think it’s ok. English is wack and always changing, and if someone feels uncomfortable about you calling them something, it’s kind of on them to tell you.  –R Blue (yes, and also asking if they’re comfy with certain terms is always good if you don’t know)

Is b*tch a gender neutral term? What about queen? 

I think it depends on the context but most of the time yes bitch and queen are pretty gender neutral. – Jaime

I personally don’t use b***h mainly because I am afraid of offending the women in my life who may not feel comfortable with a non-woman using the word because of historical derogatory uses (similar to other slurs that have been reclaimed by other marginalized groups). I do quite often call people queens regardless of gender. I generally use ‘queen’ to express my fondness and high regard for the person or people I am directing it towards.  If someone were to use either b***h or queen toward me in this endearing way, I personally would not be offended or upset because I understand that it is not being used in a gendered way. Niko

Should people make an effort to not assume the gender of anyone? Don’t some trans people also really want to pass? And don’t these two things kind of contradict each other?

This is a very good point. For some people, they would be happy with you ask for their pronouns, because it shows you care and would like to make sure to address them correctly; others may take offense if you ask their pronouns because they may interpret this as them not passing. In my opinion, asking someone’s pronouns versus assuming is a case by case situation. For example, I would say asking the pronouns of someone with whom you are acquainted that seems to express themselves in a way that doesn’t stereotypically fit the pronouns you know them by is perfectly acceptable. If you don’t know someone on a personal level and you are unsure of what pronouns they use, I would ask, but making sure to do it in a respectful way. If the person has an androgynous appearance, they are probably used to being asked their pronouns and would probably appreciate being asked instead of  being misgendered. CranberryJuice -JH

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