The video circulating on social media platforms is that of a transgender woman who is standing in a Gamestop in Albuquerque, New Mexico and obviously distraught and upset with the employee and the other customers in the store. The video shows the woman demanding to be referred to as “ma’am” multiple times after the employee and the customers repeatedly misgender her. She gets visibly upset, makes threats, demands, and swears. But, in the end, she leaves. That’s the gist; you can see it for yourself here:
Is it ok for someone to storm through a store, kick a display, shout obscenities or threaten to meet an employee “out back”? No. Absolutely not. But I have to consider what was going on with this woman to make her get to this level of upset over a stranger misgendering her.
I had to do a little research to find the backstory here. Because, as we all know, not everything we see on the internet is as it seems. I wanted to know what happened BEFORE the cameras started recording. What brought it to this place of anger? What I could find, according to Daily Mail is, the woman came in and purchased an item. Upon the clerk handing her the receipt he called her “sir,” and she got upset. She wanted to return the item she had just purchased because she didn’t feel comfortable spending money in a store where an employee had just deeply insulted her. The clerk offered store credit. You can see in the video that she is noticeably getting more and more agitated with the situation and then starts the explosive responses.
The whole thing makes me so sad. So angry. I have to wonder if she would have escalated to that point if the employee wouldn’t have misgendered her in the first place or if he would have apologized IMMEDIATELY, and not continued to do so time after time following. The employee did apologize a few times. However, are you really “sorry” if you continue to do the very thing you’re apologizing for? Me thinks not.
She is dressed in pink shoes, a grey hoodie, women’s cut tight jeans, and a pink top with long hair and makeup applied. In a world of gender stereotypes, she is unquestionably dressed as a woman.
Why is it ok to misgender someone and then CONTINUE to do so when they have repeatedly corrected you otherwise? I’m not sure I can think of a good excuse here as to what would make that scenario acceptable.
I have seen some horrifying posts about this poor woman. Chastizing her for being angry, making jokes about how she “looks like a man.” I have to say, there are plenty of people who LOOK different, but that doesn’t give you the right to refer to them otherwise. We are told as a society that words like “retard” and “slow,” “tranny” and “fag” are derogatory and hurtful. Hate words. Why is repeated misgendering someone who has already given you the correct term to use not on the same level of insult and disrespect?
Let’s pretend this didn’t have to do with the controversial LGBTQ community. Let’s say, for argument sake; the employee made the HUGE mistake of asking a woman when she is due with her little bundle of joy only to find out that she is not actually pregnant. Would he say it again, and then again? Would the visual of her belly make it IMPOSSIBLE for him to stop saying something about her pending pregnancy despite knowing better? Would the internet be trolling with people demanding that because she looks like she could have a baby in her womb that she must, in fact, be pregnant? My eyes are telling me that you look like you’re carrying a child, so I’m going to call it as I see it because that’s the entitled asshole I am. Would this scenario change the way you think? I should hope so, and then I would venture to challenge you to consider what makes this situation so different?
Besides having a transgender child and fearing every single day about situations like this happening to him one day and my child having to see first-hand how genuinely awful and cruel the world can be, I am sad because I am sure there is so much hurt behind this poor woman’s reaction. I would have to assume based on her level of anger that the furiousness in her voice and the fierceness of her actions comes from dark places. Places where she has spent part (maybe the better part?) of her life trying to get people to SEE HER for who she is. And here she is, in a public place around people she doesn’t even know, and it’s happening to her among strangers. She’s being denied her gender identity.
I can tell you one of the first times we went out after my son cut his hair and picked out a new wardrobe is a day that sticks in my memory as one of the “good days.” We took a trip to the grocery store, and an older man in the checkout line looked at my son and said, “hey little dude, you really like to help your mommy, don’t you?” Moreover, then he looked at me and said, “you are so lucky to have such a helpful SON.” And I agreed. I was lucky. That man made my son’s day, and he didn’t even know it because that moment was the very FIRST time anyone had ever seen my son as a boy and didn’t know any better. And my son could not have been happier about that. When we got to the car, he said to me, “hey, mom! That guy thought I was a boy and he didn’t even know I used to be a girl, isn’t that so COOL??!!”
It was very cool. It gave my son confidence. Showed him that he could be the person he felt inside AND out. And made my son feel comfortable in his own skin for the first time, maybe ever.
So thinking back on that day and how critical that moment was to my son. It paved the way for his path to socially transitioning completely and being confident and brave enough to do so. I think about that, and I feel sad for this woman because based on her reaction and the behaviors and words of the people in the people in the store, it would seem she hasn’t had many experiences like my young child. Instead, she is probably fighting family and friends to accept her for who she is and then, now, she can’t even go to a public place surrounded by strangers without someone reminding her that she was born in the wrong body. How sad is that? What kind of hurt must that feel like? I couldn’t even imagine.
The suicide rate among the trans community that feels unsupported by their loved ones is a staggering number — almost HALF. I have to point that out because it’s situations like these that contribute to this astonishing rate. When you misgender someone you are dismissing their gender identity. According to Gender Confirmation Center, “Misgendering can invalidate a person’s gender identity which can lead to feeling disrespected, alienated, dismissed, and/or dysphoric. It has negative consequences for a person’s self-esteem, mental health, and identity continuity, so it is important.”
I urge the world to start trying to do better. Using words that assume someone’s gender is usually habit, I get that. However, making an effort not to assume gender in the first place would eliminate the hurt and discrimination someone feels by being misgendered. And if you accidentally call someone by the wrong pronoun, APOLOGIZE, and MEAN IT. Don’t follow it up with repeated offenses. If you can’t get it right, don’t use gender identifying language at all.
And let’s stop making comments about how someone looks a certain way they deserve to be identified whatever WE feel is acceptable. It’s not a valid argument.