On cis misgendering

Observation: Many cis men take extreme offense in being misgendered (usually on purpose, as an insult) as female.

Hypothesis 1: This is because our society hates women, and calling someone who isn’t used to that an entity so much hated is one of the worst things you can say to them. If we eliminate misogyny, they wouldn’t mind.

Hypothesis 2: Cis people (at least not “cis by default”) too hate being misgendered. This is irrelevant to misogyny, and wouldn’t go away unless we eliminate genders.

Observation 2: Many cis women also take offense in being misgendered as male.

That is consistent with hypothesis 2, but not extremely consistent with hypothesis 1, unless you add an extra epicycle “women dislike misogyny, see being misgendered as male a sign of that, and therefore hate it.” That, however, would only explain it for those who explicitly hold feminist beliefs, and from my observations, the set of cis women who are offended by misgendering is by no means limited to that. Besides, Occam’s razor suggests than if we can have either at least four independent hypotheses of why people hate being misgendered (for trans people, for cis men, for cis feminist women, and for cis non-feminist women) or one hypothesis that being misgendered is a terminal negative value for everyone with gender identity, we’d rather choose the latter, unless there’s some ironclad evidence that it’s the former.

1 thought on “On cis misgendering

  1. Hypothesis 3: Hypotheses 1 and 2 are *both* true.

    Prediction: Cis men and women both take offense at being misgendered, but cis men take *more* offense.

    Is the prediction true? I don’t have data, but gut feeling says yes. There are contexts in which quasi-misgendering a cis heterosexual woman can be conventionally interpreted as a compliment (“she’s one of the guys”), but fewer or no contexts in which quasi-misgendering a cis heterosexual man would be construed as a compliment.


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