By Roz Kaveney
I thought this article was relevant as we talked about language and the ways in which to refer to Gender Variance in week 1 and 2. I was looking for articles on Gender Variant life in the UK but came across this article instead and couldn’t ignore the importance of it. Kaveney talks about the continuing problem with wrongful use of pronouns and general disregard for identity on the Guardian newspaper website.
Although the article was extremely interesting, the most interesting part was reading the comments session of this article. There were so many different responses about what was appropriate and what was inappropriate. One blogger even went as far as to say that the Trans community should stop trying to identify themselves and freely express themselves. I didn’t agree at all. The comment came from someone who did not live within the gender variant community and I would go as far as to question whether this person would give up his/her identity?
Just because it is difficult for people outside of the gender variant family to speak the appropriate language doesn’t mean that the language should be forgotten. If it was difficult for everyone to say male or female/ boy or girl would we stop identifying? In this extremely hetero-normalized world that we live in- I highly doubt that. There needs to be sincere attempts to use the right language and when failing there should be an open acceptance for correction.
Here is an example where in all other instances a heterosexual white male would not accept the wrong use of identity:
Indianapolis is playing Chicago in the super bowl. A friend who knows little about football asks how the Cubs will do in the game.
There is no doubt in my mind that the friend would be corrected and then told why there are different names for the different Chicago teams and the importance of this. “Another way is to say that when people are dying, you can’t let any slur go unremarked. Trans people’s battle for language is no different from the struggle against other sexist language; we’re not just being picky (“Why Trans is in but Tranny is out”, Roz Kaveney).” Most, feel that the rules do not apply to them and refuse to look at the bigger picture. Hopefully this example will stand as a reminder to all that we all take pride in our identity, therefore everyone’s identity should be respected.
Although most make real attempts to speak the appropriate language when a slip up occurs and the wrong pronoun is used it is just seen as no respect unconsciously. “Getting your name right is a minimum requirement of respect – referring to you in the third person by the wrong pronoun means that respect is only superficial politeness (Roz Kaveney).” I think this is true up to a point. Sometimes the effort is put forth so as not to seem offensive or out of touch but the truth will shine through when the slip up occurs. It’s like all things if you believe in it and have passion for it then you won’t go at it half heartedly. There are those slipups and for the authentic of us an apology quickly follows. But the bottom line is everyone deserves genuine effort in acknowledgement and understanding. No one persons identity is any more or less important than any other.