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Nobody Asked: Misgendering and mispronouning

Updated: Mar 13

It's very common to refer to using the wrong pronouns as misgendering, but this term isn't quite accurate. Misgendering refers to applying gender incorrectly to someone: for example, describing a person as a woman when they are not, or pointing them towards a gendered space that doesn't align with their identity. Pronouns do not equal gender; technically, they are no more and no less than what you want others to call you in the third person, regardless of your gender. One may go by he/him/his without identifying as a man, and using they/them or neopronouns does not automatically mean that someone is nonbinary. It is thus more accurate to refer to the harmful act of using the wrong pronouns for someone as mispronouning. Of course, it isn't quite that simple. In practice, different pronoun sets do correspond heavily to different genders; for example, most people using primarily they/them pronouns probably identify as some type of nonbinary. Plenty of trans and gender diverse people choose pronouns because of that correspondence and consider pronouns an important aspect of how they experience gender. And on the other side, often trans and gender diverse people get mispronouned because we are being misgendered--someone assumes a person's gender and applies the pronouns that they are most familiar with using for people of that gender. Additionally, sometimes people who know our correct pronouns use incorrect pronouns for us because they are still reading us as having a gender we do not have, and then using the pronouns they associate with that gender. Someone who is using the wrong pronouns for you is mispronouning you, and the reason they are doing so may or may not be due to them misgendering you in their head.

So, in summary: Mispronouning means using the wrong pronouns for someone, often because you are misgendering them; misgendering means incorrectly assuming someone's gender, which might be expressed in a variety of ways.

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