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"He" or "She" Watch

    • Thread Starter

    You can probably guess from the title what I'm going to ask, but I'll do the formalities anyway.

    Say someone is born male (like in this thread), then has a sex change to become female, what is the correct pronoun to use? Or is there one? There seems to be a disconnect between what the words technically mean, and what the public mean when they use them, best illustrated by "But he can't be a woman because he wasn't born a girl". Now, this isn't meant with any (apparent) malice, just a disagreement on what words to use, and probably not helped by the use of the word "transgender" in the first place in that it is then used as a qualifier - transgender man/woman etc.

    A more personal question would be, is it offensive to be called the wrong sex/gender/pronoun? For myself, I'm not likely to get fussed if someone gets it wrong ont the internet, not having seen my face, and I'd probably think they were being silly if it were in real life, but I'd imagine that could be different for someone who's grappled with their identity.

    Back to the original point, when does the flipping of the pronoun (if you think it should change) happen? Is it as soon as the individual realises/feels they are male/female, when they want other people to use those words, or after the operation (if they have one)?

    There's a possibility that I've interchanged male/female for man/woman where I shouldn't have somewhere up there, but do answer some of my other points as well rather than just correcting me

    Male and female refer to sex. There's very little point in using these two terms outside of biology. It's better to use women and man because these are judged via your gender identity. You use whatever pronouns the person wants you to use. If the person says they'd like to be referred to as a women, you refer to them as she. If they say they'd like to be referred to as a man, you'd refer to them as a he. If the person is quite obviously trying to duplicate feminine characteristics like wearing a dress, putting make up on etc etc then it's best for you to be on the safe side and refer to them a she because a transgendered person will be more upset if you refer to them as a different pronoun than a non-trans man would if you refer to them as a women, generally. It's just being a respectful human being. Why would you intentionally cause someone emotional pain because you want to be a pedantic dick? I can understand why would you refer to a transsexual women as a man when you first encounter them and you don't understand that they'd like to be referred to as a women but after encountering them and they state so? Your just being a dick at that stage. I'm not even comfortable with transsexuals/gendered and don't accept the whole "man born in a women's body" but that doesn't mean I have to be dickish about it and not respect someone else's view.

    Have some rep for asking the right questions. Basically, call people by whatever pronoun they prefer, whether that's he, she, they, it, none (some people just prefer you use their name instead), or whatever else. What their genitals look like isn't relevant to the issue - and there are plenty of trans people who opt never to go through any medical processes (and what medical options there are are much more varied and numerous than just one 'surgery').

    As for whether people find it offensive to be called by the wrong pronoun, that's a personal thing. I can imagine finding honest mistakes more or less irritating depending on my mood, but people ignoring me if I've told them would be even more so.

    This is a good vocab guide, incidentally.

    If they want to be considered a man, use the male pronouns and so on, if they want to be considered a woman, use the female pronouns There are many people (mainly Daily Mail readers) who make a big fuss and make sure everyone can see them calling someone by the gender opposite to the one the people want to be known as (i.e, when they're a boy who wants to be a girl, they go out of their way to use the pronoun "he", even if the "boy" goes by a girl's name and everyone else uses female pronouns).

    I think the change should happen whenever the person wants it to
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Updated: March 25, 2012
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