- Hi Pablo,
- It is always a little awkward when referring to people before their transition and I think there is no one single, simple way of doing it.
- Obviously, the person concerned still had the same innate gender identity although was living in fact, a lie or a charade, hiding the real person underneath.
- If possible, therefore, I try to prioritise the pronouns that are correct for the gender identity, rather than the gender role and social status that the person had, prior to transition.
- For instance, when referring to our own trans daughter (now in her 40s) I will always use female pronouns, but will start by saying 'of course, at the time I describe, she was living as a boy'. Or 'at that time she was still living and working as a man...'
- Once the reader has understood, you may not have to repeat this, but if the text is long, you may need to remind the reader from time to time, that you are consistently using pronouns that match the underlying gender identity, even for those periods of her life when she was living as a boy/man. Of course, the reverse applies to those who were assigned female but who identify as boys/men.
- If you are reporting something actually said at some time in the past, there is little choice but to use the 'wrong' pronoun. It is possible, in English, to add [sic] which indicates that you are knowingly writing something incorrect, but are unable to avoid it, or, in these circumstances, you might put the pronoun in italics to emphasise that the speaker was getting it wrong at the time.
- For instance, 'Her grandfather said, "get him to play more football, that'll sort him out"'
- It's always difficult to tailor the language so that everyone is happy. I hope this helps a little.
- I think it is also important (whilst I'm on the topic of language) not to describe people as identifying as 'male' or 'female' as these are 'sex' words, not gender identity words. This mistake is always being made in the UK, in our laws, in our treatment protocols etc. I am gradually managing to get some changes in this, and I am always trying to persuade others to understand that 'gender identity' is about one's psychological perception of one's place in the social world of men, women, or indeed any one of a number of other self-descriptions which are now used. Male and female, however, describe our phenotype, our genitalia, and our sex characteristics.
- The conflation of man and male, woman and female, leads to people believing that the way we look, and are consequently assigned at birth, must determine how we identify. Those who do not conform have therefore historically been regarded as mentally ill, or making a life-style choice.
- Our orgaisation does a great deal of training for all kind sof organisations, and I always include something about the science of the brain, because it helps people understand that trans people are not mentally ill (the condition will be re-classified in the next edition of the ICD), and that their change of role is not a simple life-style choice. I was very pleased with the latest brain research which comes from Spain: the Rametti studies 2010 and 2011 on white matter in trans men and trans women. So, a big thank you to Spain.
- All the best with your work, and please get back to me if you need more information.
- Kind regards
- Terry Reed
- Terry Reed, OBE, JP, BA(Hons), MCSP, SRP, GradDipPhys.
- Trustee GIRES,
- The Warren,
- KT21 2SP
- Tel: 01372 801554
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