In this post I would like to explore the topic of gender as it pertains to mental health. More specifically the topic of misgendering and self-determination of gender and the effects it has on mental health. In advance this is a trigger warning in regards to misgendering.
Often the debate surrounding using “they”,”zey” or other non-gender binary pronouns, as well as using “he” or “she” for individuals who are trans, is about feelings. To some degree this debate is valid when it pertains to the feelings of the individual being misgendered. However, sadly, the debate tends to focus on the feelings of the person purposely seeking to misgender the individual. The conversation always seems to revert to how the cis-gendered individual ‘feels’ about the topic of gender pronouns.
Yet what if for the moment we talk about mental health rather than feelings (although the two are of course connected). Being misgendered can have a tremendous impact on the mental health of an individual. It can trigger feelings of depression, anxiety, suicide, eating disorders, PTSD, dissociation disorder, etc.
So then are one’s ‘feelings’ toward gender pronouns really more important than the psychological impact that misgendering can impart on individuals? Are your politics more important than the agency, self determination, and health of other individuals? Is choosing to misgender someone worth more than basic human regard?