I mentioned in my last post that I'd been to a panel discussion on transgender politics and being a better ally. There's one thing brought up during the evening that has been dwelling on me for a few days so I think deserves a moment's contemplation.
The subject in hand was misgendering, and the audience discussion turned to one of calling it out. Unsurprising given that many of them were politically motivated students, they live to a large extent in a culture in which calling out provides a means of garnering kudos. Different causes from those of my student days, but plus ça change!
I felt that something had been missed, namely that not all misgendering is malicious. People slip up, it's only natural. I'd be the first to hold my hands up here, I dread the moments in which my brain tells me something automatically and I say the wrong thing. For me the danger comes when meeting transmen at the start of their transition before their T kicks in, my damn brain has so often had a "she" hovering about to be said without thinking.
So if someone misgenders a trans person by all means tell them so, but hold on a minute before breaking out the big guns. There are two things to ask here: Did they do it deliberately, and how did they react afterwards? If they purposefully emphasised an inappropriate *HE* or *SHE* and responded with anger when politely corrected, then let them have it! But if they went red-faced and said something like "Oh shit, I got that wrong, didn't I, sorry", then smile and move on, next time they'll remember and get it right. It's never appropriate to make a scene unnecessarily, it doesn't make us any friends.