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In this new and evolving world, understanding and respecting gender identities is becoming more important. Yet, even with the best intentions, we might inadvertently misgender someone. Here are 15 innocent actions that might lead to such a faux pas. Remember, it’s always best to listen, learn, and when in doubt, just ask!
Using Gendered Greetings
“Ladies and Gentlemen” or “Boys and Girls” might seem like a polite way to address a group, but it can unintentionally exclude or misgender someone.
Relying on Stereotypes
Assuming someone’s gender based on their clothing, hairstyle, or hobbies can lead to missteps. Not every man loves sports, and not every woman is into makeup!
Forgetting to Ask for Pronouns
It’s a simple step that can make a world of difference. When in doubt, just ask!
Making Assumptions from Voices
High-pitched or deep voices don’t always align with gender identities. It’s a spectrum, not a set rule.
Using Gendered Terms for Jobs
Words like “fireman” or “mailman” are outdated. “Firefighter” and “mail carrier” are more inclusive.
Guessing Based on Names
Just because a name sounds masculine or feminine in one culture doesn’t mean it’s the same in another.
Relying on Past Knowledge
People change and evolve. Someone you knew in the past might identify differently now.
Using Gendered Restrooms as a Guide
Just because someone uses a particular restroom doesn’t mean they identify with that gender. Some people choose restrooms based on safety or cleanliness.
Misunderstanding Cultural Norms
In some cultures, clothing or hairstyles that might be viewed as feminine or masculine differ from Western norms.
Forgetting Non-Binary Folks
Not everyone identifies as male or female. Some people don’t fit neatly into these categories.
Making Assumptions in Sports
Thinking that someone plays a sport based on gender stereotypes can lead to awkward moments.
Using Pet Names
Terms like “sweetie” or “buddy” might seem friendly, but they can carry gendered connotations.
Overlooking Gender-Neutral Options
When given the choice between “Mr.” and “Ms.,” don’t forget about the inclusive “Mx.”
Assuming Family Roles
Not every family has a “mom” and a “dad.” Some have two moms, two dads, or other configurations.
Relying on Physical Appearance
Body shapes, facial hair, or any other physical trait shouldn’t be the determining factor in guessing someone’s gender.