A media peer once told me about how their editorial head would often misgender them in emails. When they corrected their supervisor in a private email, the latter simply shrugged it off as a typo; pronouns get interchanged in their emails all the time, apparently. They couldn’t be bothered to glance a second time to make sure that they called people by the right names and/or pronouns. Just the regular hustle-bustle of life.
Such incidents are common, I’m told. But each time I learn of them, I’m appalled at how people in workplaces think that their to-do list requires their care and attention more than the people they interact with on a literal daily basis. There is this sense of importance and entitlement that people in positions of hierarchical power gain from such unapologetic arrogance. It makes for an abusive, overwhelming workplace for people of marginalized genders and sexualities, more so than those belonging to the mainstream (yes, even Brahmnical cis-women, a.k.a. #BossBabes).
So it was a relief to have the matter finally addressed in an administrative capacity, albeit in another country (and therefore of no practical purpose to me? Or is there?) A Canadian Court recently ruled that deliberate misgendering in the workplace is tantamount to a human rights violation.
The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal wrote in the ruling on a particular case: “Using the correct pronouns validates and affirms they are a person equally deserving of respect.”
So the next time somebody misgenders you, perhaps you could at least let them know that it is a human right violation in Canada, and it might mean something to them. Or maybe it won’t? Maybe it takes a threat to your job security that finally moves the envelope. To get someone’s attention that you human relationships require you to show up with accountability, even if they are in a public or official capacity.
As opposed to common misconception, relationships aren’t merely in the familial and private realm. They are an active part of our lives, regardless of whether it is in-person or through digital media.
We deserve to have our identities affirmed, for us to be called us by a name that resonates with our sense of selves, to be referred to in ways that make us feel whole, human and present. IN ALL OUR RELATIONSHIPS.