Transgender Pronouns

Canada’s MacLeans Magazine has published a brief, and very disrespectful, article about a trans woman’s struggles for respect as an employee of HSBC in Hong Kong. See below. This comes on the heels of the media’s terrible job at using appropriate pronouns in the case of the stabbing of two trans women in Washington, D.C. just recently. See a discussion of this case at feministing. Thanks Sex Geek for the heads up!


4 thoughts on “Transgender Pronouns

  1. I would have hoped they would have a style guide which told them how to discuss transgendered people; that’s appalling.

    Forgive a slight digression here, or delete or move it if it’s inappropriate. I have a terminology question, and I’m curious to get opinions on it if I might.

    I have an acquaintance who transitioned from male to female several years ago. When I’m talking about things that this person did before the transition, when she was under her former male name, which pronoun and name would you use? These were public presentations, and people were interacting with the individual.

    (Yes, I can ask her what she prefers, and someday I will. I’m curious what the general opinion is.)

  2. I think that’s hard. I do’t think there is a “right” answer, Jacob Hale discusses this issue a bit in his essay, “”Tracing a Ghostly Memory in My Throat: Reflections on Ftm Feminist Voice and Agency” in You’ve Changed
    Sex Reassignment and Personal Identity, edited by Laurie J. Shrage.

  3. J-Bro, I would ask your acquaintance what she prefers. I had to write a brief letter of rec. for a friend who I’d known before he transitioned (he identified as female back in grad school, which is when I knew him best). I felt a little odd talking about him in the past tense using male pronouns, since he had been a woman when we worked together. But this was his preference. Thinking about it now, it makes sense–in so many ways (and in ways that were relevant to the job), he’s the same person as he was before. I think if I were to have referred to him (in the past) as “she” it would have sounded as if I were talking about two different people.

    It’s too bad that our language makes this unnecessarily complicated!

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