I recently started working at a school. As part of my job, I see the names of various students pop up on my computer screen, all day. I love my job, and feel as though I have acclimated well to the tasks expected of me.
However, an insidious part of myself has come to light–a part of myself that would have gone unnoticed, if it weren’t for my new job. I noticed, while reading in my mind the names of various schoolkids that pop up on my screen, that I have a tendency to gender the names on my screen.
I’ve spent the past few weeks making a conscious effort to break the habit of gendering names. I am constantly misgendered by people I meet in person. It is inexcusable for me to impose my interpretations of gender on to another person, even if all I know of that person is just their name. I should know better.
When we think of bullying and committing violent acts toward other people, we oftentimes think of acts of overt violence. However, covert violence exists. Misgendering is an act of violence and is unacceptable.
Don’t misgender people. If you have a habit of assuming a certain name or outfit or hairstyle or body denotes a specific gender, break that habit now. Names do not have a gender. Clothes do not have a gender.
Do what is within your power to stop bullying. But remember that covert violence needs to be ended as well as overt violence. Misgendering is just one form of covert violence. Don’t make assumptions about someone’s gender, and challenge that behavior in others whenever you are able.