We can all agree that purposefully calling someone a name is disrespectful, correct? And we know that it’s wrong when we accidentally assume, theoretically, that a person whose name may be gender neutral such as “Sam” or “Alex”’s gender? If so, then why are people still constantly misgendering transgender people on purpose?
According to the World Health Organization, violence is referred to as “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation.”
When someone intentionally misgenders a transgendered person, it can be noted as psychological abuse. Misgendering is dehumanizing; when you purposefully disregard someone’s gender, simply because they are not like you, it can lead to mental and physical harm.
People call others names and slurs in an act to feel superior or to simply bring the other person down. When someone intentionally misgenders a trans person, it can hurt their feelings, but most importantly, it can cause them to feel isolated, unwanted, and flat out disrespected. Other than one’s mental welfare being attacked, their physical bodies are also at harm. Besides being attacked by someone else, 41% of transgender people have attempted suicide in their lifetime, as opposed to the fraction of the entire United States population which have attempted suicide, 4.6%.
While one may think that misgendering can’t be that significant in the purposes for someone to take their own life, the U.S. Transgender Survey states that 54% of those living with unsupportive families, where their family members may misgender them, had attempted suicide within their lifetime. 37% of those with supportive families had attempted suicide at some point of their lives.
Misgendering not only affects people directly, but it contributes to a society and culture where transgender people are becoming targets. These acts normalize aggression and abuse, while poking fun at disrespecting others, and increases the justification of transphobia. Other than denying their presence, transgendered folk are being murdered by the numbers, especially trans women of color.
The first step to ending transphobia, and violence in general, is to stop misgendering trans folk intentionally. Don’t be afraid to educate the ignorant, and don’t be afraid to protect your trans friends and family. If we stop misgendering, we can put a stop to transphobic violence, which will ultimately make the world a better place.