Gender Terminology and Respect    by    Ruth Utnage

I have held a view about people calling me him, he, and sir. So long as it’s not being done maliciously, I’m good, I am not gonna freak out or even correct someone, I have found that sugar gets me further in here. But every once in a while something happens that sparks me up. Like today.

Today someone made it a point to call me he and him, not because they were not thinking about it, but because they truly thought they were doing the right thing by refusing to acknowledge my gender and misrepresenting my actual gender identity as a woman.

I held my poise because I’m a poised woman and believe in not letting bigots see you hurt as a way to starve their ignorance and feed their insecurities. However I did find a point to leave the conversation gracefully and let the meeting continue uninterrupted and without me, well…making a scene. Instead I went to the restroom, composed myself and returned ready to interact professionally. But this leaves me with a really important question: when I run into this situation on the streets how do maintain my professionality in times where bigotry is blatant and virtually unimpeded, where there is no “sponsor” to cease the conversation like there was today (thank goodness for our Defy sponsor Ryan handling the situation with such grace!)?

What kind of advice can you offer me?

With Love
Ruth Utnage

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