In my last few posts about respecting the pronouns of transgender people, I’ve used language like “if a friend changed their pronouns…” or “when speaking with a trans loved one…” when I’ve explained how important it is to use gender affirming pronouns.
What I want to make clear is also this: if a transgender person is not your friend, you still must respect their identity. If a transgender person is your least favorite person, you still must respect their identity.
Using someone’s affirming pronouns is not a reward for good behavior or your friendship. Respecting the pronouns and identity of a trans person is part and parcel of being a good human, no matter what kind of person they are.
If a transgender person is unkind, unpleasant, or even abusive, that’s something that can hurt you. Trans people are people, just like everyone else, and have the same possibility for any personality trait as cis people do. But it’s their actions that are to be questioned, not their gender.
It should be noted that trans people often suffer abuse their whole lives just for existing. The emotional toll of those kinds of interaction is huge, and can obviously and understandably affect mood and behavior. If people were rude to you every day, you might be a grumpus, too. Transgender people don’t owe you smiles and sunshine, just like no one else owes you smiles and sunshine. Trans people can be hurt and angry, and are allowed to be vocal about that pain.
But no matter how uncomfortable any one trans person makes you, you STILL cannot misgender them. Misgendering is not a punishment for bad behavior, it is proof that you’re not actually an ally to all trans people, just the ones you like.
So remember to use gender affirming language for every single person you encounter! It’s important and mandatory!