I have had this post on my mind for a number of weeks. It was then that I decided to correct anyone calling me sir or any other male form of address. It does not happen frequently like every time I am out. But, it does occur regularly. Enough to bother the heebeegeebees out of me. I do my best to appear like a woman and act like a woman according to western society’s norms.† I will discuss, or try anyway, why it bothers me to be called sir, why I have decided to correct those who do call me sir, and some examples of times when it has happened.
Why does this bother me so much? So what, if people call me sir. It’s just a label, albeit an inaccurate one. First, if you were a ciswoman, would you like being misgendered as sir? For that matter if you are a cisman would you like someone calling you ma’am? Especially if you look on manly side if your a ciswoman, or if you look feminine if your a cisman. So, why should it be so different for me. I identity as a woman just like a ciswoman. I do not have that classic feminine look. But, I still desire to be seen as woman. So, when someone calls me sir or misgenders me in other ways, I don’t like.
There are two main reasons I choose to correct most people. First and foremost it is a desired not to be misgendered. It doesn’t feel right, and it doesn’t feel good. Why should I acquiesce to someone mistaking my gender. Again if your cis would you like this. The second reason is part education and hence advocacy. Might they hesitate the next time they begin to gender anyone, and who may even be a transgender person. And if they happen to figure out or understand their mistake because I am a transwoman, than I have advocate not just for me, but for other transgender individuals as well.
Now I will describe some examples. The first was in a local grocery store, and I don’t remember the particulars, but I do know when I said I am not a sir the person corrected themselves and said ma’am. Similar to my second time when I spoke up when I was going in a door, and this man was coming out and held the door open and said excuse me sir. I told him I was not a sir, and he quickly apologized and said ma’am. One time I did not need to correct because the person corrected themselves. Her child was blocking the aisle in the store and told him to get out of the man’s way. I turn around to say something, and she quickly corrected herself and said out of the woman’s way. In all cases where I said I am not a sir the person politely apologized. In some cases I did not say anything as the moment passed without an opportunity to speak up.
Fast forwarding and going a bit off topic I had a few instances were I was gendered properly, or in one case at first. The first instance was when I went to a Dunkin Donuts because my girlfriend wanted a doughnut. When I went up the server she ask what would you like ma’am, but when she handed me the doughnuts she said thank you sir. My mood went up, and then it went down. I believe it was my voice that finally got me misgendered. The second instance went a lot better. I was checking out my groceries at Aldi. When I got to the register the checker said did you find everything you wanted ma’am. I said no as usual. They always seem to be missing something on my list. But, when he handed me the receipt he said thank you ma’am, keeping the gender address correctly. Finely, a few weeks back my girlfriend and I were shopping in a Micheal’s and started to check out, when the cashier called me sir, I told her I was not a sir, and she quickly apologize and called me ma’am like many of the others. What made this instance interesting is that we actually struck up a conversation over nail polish when I complimented her on hers.
This last interaction goes to show you never know what can transpire when you stick up for yourself. But, I also foresee a problem could arise that so far hasn’t. That is someone I tell I am not a sir to will not accept the correction. I do not see this as a strong possibility. The way I figure it if someone is polite enough to call me sir, they would be kind enough either apologize, call me ma’am, or both.
So, if you ever meet me (highly unlikely) please do not call me sir or misgendered me in anyway.
† Not that I am beholden to these norms, but being seen as a woman is important enough for me to conform to them.
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