I pushed back on my coworker’s bigotry: a success story

A reader writes:

This isn’t a question, I just wanted to reach out and let you know how much your blog has helped me get through this situation at work!

I work in healthcare, specifically pediatrics. I’ve worked in healthcare for over a decade, and I’ve been in some truly toxic workplaces, but the clinic I currently work in is not one of them! My boss is an amazing person, the literal dream boss. She listens, she isn’t afraid to jump in and work the front lines with us, she isn’t only open to feedback but actively encourages it. Plus, she is quick to let us know when we are appreciated.

The other day, I overheard one of our providers, Mallory, asking her nurse to properly document a transgender patient’s names/pronouns. The nurse, Cheryl, didn’t know how to do this (it doesn’t come up super often and she’s a newer hire, so this wasn’t a big deal), so I volunteered to walk her through it. Our electronic medical record has functions to facilitate this, so that you can look at a patient’s chart and immediately see names and pronouns while leaving legal names and biological sex unchanged for medical and insurance reasons.

As I was walking Cheryl through this, she immediately started making comments like, “I don’t have a problem with it, but…” and “None of my friends were like that in high school.” I responded that I didn’t have any friends who were twins in high school, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t exist back then, and she said, “This is a new thing, it just keeps happening younger and younger.”

Then, she said something along the lines of, “It’s just weird to me. I don’t understand it. Like, you’re supposed to call them ‘it,’ right? Mallory told me to just call them ‘it’.”

I was speechless!

After what felt like forever, but I’m sure it was only a second, I said, “No, never, never, ever call transgender patients that. Don’t call anyone ‘it,’ that’s really dehumanizing.”

The comment was bad enough on its own, but it’s even worse when you consider that I had literally just helped her document that the patient used she/her pronouns (!).

Afterwards, I felt like I handled the situation okay in the moment. I wish I had said a few other things, but I didn’t just let the comments slide in the moment, and I’m proud of myself for that. I’m generally the kind of person who does not like conflict and prefers to stay silent, but I spoke up.

But, as I thought about it more, I started to feel like it wasn’t enough and I realized I needed to say something to my boss.

Like I said, my boss (Lana) is really the dream boss. But I was still anxious about talking to her. Unfortunately, transgender rights is politicized, but I knew I had a solid foundation discussing it from a place of best practices for our patients, and our company policy is very inclusive. I also had to fight the voice in my head that said I was “tattling” on Cheryl.

Pre-COVID, Lana asked us all for feedback on in-service ideas/topics for staff meetings. She is amazing at having our monthly staff meetings revolve around exploring deeper topics and she has invited guests to speak with us. They aren’t just boring policy meetings, they are insightful and informative and enjoyable. Way back when she asked, I told her I thought we should do an in-service on transgender/non-binary patients and discuss best practices to support them, and she thought it was a good idea. But COVID disrupted things and our monthly staff meetings have been more like emergency sessions. So, I decided that I could use that conversation as a framework to discuss my interaction with Cheryl. Instead of just bringing her a problem, I could bring a solution too!

I decided to email her (patient care makes it difficult to carve out time to talk, plus I was anxious and wanted to write things down so I could organize my thoughts). Lana quickly responded to the email saying to talk with one of our mental health providers about planning an in-service (yay!), but she also sent me an IM asking to talk with her when I got a minute.

I went into her office. She asked me to close the door. I started panicking, and then she said, “I just want you to know that I was absolutely horrified by your email! What Cheryl said was completely inappropriate, and I’m just grateful that the patients or her parents didn’t overhear her, because that was not acceptable. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.”

She also mentioned that Mallory would never refer to a transgender patient as “it” and in fact Mallory is one of the providers who is most protective and knowledgeable about her transgender patients.

Reading your blog has given me the courage to speak up, and to do the right thing. I truly, truly love my patients and I knew I would feel awful if I didn’t say something and one of them got hurt by a fellow medical professional saying something so gross and dehumanizing. Plus, I now have the opportunity to streamline our transgender patient policy so all of our patients can come into our clinic safe in the knowledge that everyone, from the receptionist to their provider, will call them by their correct name and pronouns every time, and our office can be a safe place for them to get the healthcare they need!

Here’s what I love about this story:

* You don’t like conflict and prefer to stay silent, but you spoke up because you knew your voice was needed.

* Like most of us, afterwards you thought “I wish I had also said X or Y” but you got the important parts right (“this isn’t right / don’t do that”) and you don’t minimize that to yourself.

* You realized there was more you could do to help, and you did that too.

We have the rights and protections we have because people speak up, even when they’re uncomfortable. That work is not done. Let’s all keep doing it.

{ 235 comments… read them below }

  1. niko*

    i’m nonbinary and navigating the medical field is a nightmare. providers like you (and the lovely person who administered my covid test last week and did his damnedest to make the binarist system accept a nonbinary gender option) make the experience so much better. believe me when i say that just knowing someone tried on my behalf makes all the difference.

    1. Cross and dominant*

      Medical forms are idiotic.

      I’m cross-dominant (mixed-handed), and medical forms that want to document whether you’re a rightie or a leftie can’t even get that right! When I explain that I’m mixed-handed/cross-dominant, I usually get a variation of “That doesn’t exist!” or worse, “The form doesn’t support that.” That’s usually followed by “What hand do you write with?”. It just so happens to be that the hand I write (and draw) with is not the hand I use for literally every other task that does not require a pencil, so if I had to pick a side, I feel more like left than right. For example, if I had to choose one hand to be cut off, I’d prefer to keep my left hand.
      (Neurodevelopmentally, cross-dominance is similar to left-handedness as well: caused by a similar process, and correlates to the same other neurological/neurodevelopmental factors.)

      Short explanation of cross-dominance: most people are right-handed, right-footed, right-eyed. Some people are left-handed, left-footed, left-eyed. Some people are right-handed and left-footed, that’s one type of cross-dominance. Other people have gross motor skills dominant in their right hand and fine motor skills in their left hand. Other people are stronger with their left arm but have more precision with their right arm.
      That’s not the same as ambidexterity, which is having equal preference for both right and left.
      It’s also not the same as being left-handed but having learned to do some tasks with right and, being more practiced at doing them with right, preferring them with right.*

      *Due to misdiagnosis as “left-handed person who has been encouraged to learn drawing with right” I actually spent a chunk of kindergarten being very frustrated at my teachers and parents making me draw with my left hand!

      TL;DR: medical forms are designed for hypothetical humans, not actual humans. This is curious when you consider that the medical industry treats actual humans – humans who have variances, disorders, diseases – and not hypothetical humans. (who are in perfect health (and male, but that’s a different soapbox))

      1. Cross and dominant*

        I apologize for using the word idiotic. I don’t support the use of ableist language and I’ll do better in the future.

        1. LavaLamp*

          I’m partially ambidextrous myself. My grandmother is fully ambidextrous, and it really confuses people. I do some things left handed even though I’m mostly right hand dominant. I can for example paint my nails and not struggle when I have to use my left hand.

      2. Flashgordon*

        I am similar to you. I write using my left hand and do basically everything else with my right. I throw a ball, use a knife, brush my teeth all with my right hand. I am considered a lefty by the medical forms.

        My grandfather was left handed growing up and became completely ambidextrous because the teacher tied his left hand and beat him with a switch if he tried to use it in school. He was an artist and was able to use his left and right hands simultaneously to make mirror image drawings that met up in the middle. He could also take a persons first and last names and beginning with the first letter of the first name and the last letter of the last name, somehow write out the two names forwards and backwards at the same time and have a complete name in one swoop. Quite a parlor trick. I did not inherit a single one of any of those talents!

        1. AuntAmy*

          Same here! Labels are interesting. We have a tough time letting two things be true at the same time.

        2. Vicky Austin*

          My dad also became ambidextrous because he’s left-handed and the teacher made him write with his right hand. He does every other task with his left hand.

        3. Atlantian*

          I had a professor in college who was first generation Japanese-American. She was left handed, but the teachers in Japanese school made her use her right hand to do calligraphy. As a result, she writes English with her left hand and Japanese with her right, and she can do both simultaneously. It was a neat trick, made even neater by the fact that she was a Linguistics professor, and as she made her way through graduate school and doing her PhD, she was the subject of a not small number of studies. Completely fascinating.

          As a ballet dancer, I was left leg dominant. But I do everything else right handed.

          1. allathian*

            My history teacher in high school was left handed, but she was old enough to have been forced to write with her right hand at school. The thing is, she wrote with her right hand on horizontal surfaces like a table or an overhead projector transparency, but she wrote with her left hand on the whiteboard/chalkboard.

        4. Mockingjay*

          I am a “forced righty.” Left-eye dominant and I should have been allowed to use my left hand, but in the 1960s society was “right-handed.” I write with my right hand, but turn the paper sideways like a lefty so my eye can track it. I do a lot of things left handed, like deal cards and twist bread ties in the “wrong direction.” Drove my mom crazy when helping her take down and fold sheets from the line, because I folded the opposite direction from her and the sheets would twist, lol.

      3. OyHiOh*

        Left foot, right hand, left eye. For all practical purposes, I’m right handed but dance and activities requiring strong eye-hand coordination get a bit interesting.

        1. Mainly Lurking (UK)*

          Yes, I remember an optician telling me when I had an eye test that I was cross dominant because I am right-handed but my left eye is much stronger. And like you, anything with strong hand-eye coordination can be tricky.

          1. allathian*

            Right hand, right foot, but left eye. Now I know why I’ve always been so hopeless at anything requiring hand-eye coordination.

          1. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

            I stopped to write the same thing. My left is remarkably stronger than my right, but I can’t actually hold a fork and lift food to my mouth with my left hand. No wonder i’m klutzy!

      4. Vicky Austin*

        I’m currently getting my master’s in special education, and I recently learned something interesting about left-handed people. Most people use the left hemisphere of their brain when writing and performing other verbal tasks; while the right hemisphere is used for nonverbal tasks (i.e., visual/spatial). However, some left-handed people use their right hemisphere for verbal tasks and their left hemisphere for nonverbal tasks! I never knew that before, but it makes perfect sense, since the right hemisphere controls the left side of the body and vice-versa.

        1. Cross and dominant*

          I was actually surprised the other way! I always assumed that left-handed people were the mirror-image of left-handed people neurologically, so right-verbal/left-nonverbal. It turns out that it’s more like 98 per cent of right-handed people are left-verbal/right-nonverbal. Left-handed people, 70-80 per cent are left-verbal/right-nonverbal! (I think you can argue those 80 per cent of left-handed people are actually cross-dominant. And many studies into handedness don’t factor in cross-dominant, so unless that’s been ruled out, they may very well be.)

          So essentially, right-side dominance and right-verbal/left-nonverbal is the default and something needs to happen developmentally for that to go partially the other way around. (Insert pun about wires getting crossed.) That doesn’t mean being left-handed or cross-dominant is wrong, it’s just not the default, jsut like having twelve fingers is very useful for playing the guitar but it’s also commonly characterized as a disorder.
          When you look at the bell curve of human variance – for Thing A (any trait or ability), most people are average, some people have a little more or less of A, few people have very much or very little A – left-handed people have a flatter bell curve. For example, left-handed people are over-represented both among the intellectually gifted and the intellectually disabled. Over-represented in artists, and in schizophrenics, dyslexics. Very very interesting.

          I think it’s funny how we were both surprised – you by some left-handed people having a “mirrored brain”, and I by some left-handed people not having a “mirrored brain”!

          (If there was one thing I could authorize a study on, I’d like to replicate all the studies done on the neurodiverse traits left-handedness correlates to, then separate them into a group of left-handed people with right-verbal/left-nonverbal brains (“mirrored brain”) and left-handed people with left-verbal/right-nonverbal brains (“default brain”) and then see whether those correlations also exist for “fully mirrored” persons, or whether it’s actually a type of cross-dominance that correlates to cross-dominance, and having everything mirrored doesn’t cause a difference at all – just like situs inversus totalis doesn’t come with medical problems other than doctors being confused.)

      5. Batty Twerp*

        “medical forms are designed for hypothetical humans, not actual humans”
        This immediately brought to mind the narrative of the air force wanting to improve their cockpit, so took the measurements of all their airmen (yes, it was long enough ago that they were all men) to get average dimensions, and built a cockpit to fit this average man.
        Except it fit exactly none of their existing crew, and was too dangerous for any of them to use comfortably or safely. The average airman doesn’t exist.

        And neither does the average human, and that’s what generic forms are designed for.

        1. Cross and dominant*

          Fortunately there was a single person in the country, Country A, who did fit that aircraft. A statistician by trade, he was quickly drafted and trained as a pilot.

          That country never quite figured out why their opponent, Country Z, got all their manpower. After all, their only pilot flew out every night and assured them he’d hit all his military bases and other targets perfectly in the middle, so they shouldn’t have much soldiers left.

          Country Z never quite figured out why Country A insisted on bombing a exactly a hundred miles to the north and exactly a hundred miles to the south of all their military bases, but they happily let it happen and won the war.

          1. Ermintrude*

            *chortle* All of this reminds me of when the Danish army got bras based on averaged women’s measurements but didn’t fit their actual soldiers.

      6. KateM*

        And here I thought that hospital forms that don’t allow for more than one dietary restriction were bad…

      7. KoiFeeder*

        Other people have gross motor skills dominant in their right hand and fine motor skills in their left hand.

        Oooooh, that’s what the deal is with my mom and I (reversed, I think- fine to the right and gross to the left). It’s more normal for people to do everything with one hand?

      8. In Bruges*

        “(Neurodevelopmentally, cross-dominance is similar to left-handedness as well: caused by a similar process, and correlates to the same other neurological/neurodevelopmental factors.)”

        Well, I guess that explains Europeans at the dinner table!

      9. Kathlynn*

        I’m left footed and right handed for writing, otherwise close to ambidextrous.
        gym could be frustrating. (never did learn to do cartwheels)

        1. Galloping Gargoyles*

          Wait. I can’t do cartwheels because I’m left-handed but right-footed?!? Mindblown. I seriously just thought it was because I’m well cartwheel deficient. :-) This conversation is fascinating. My husband did everything right-handed except write and so they forced him to become left-handed. I always tell him he’s the only person in the history of the world forced to become a lefty. Our adopted son is also a lefty for writing but a righty for sports and I don’t know how he eats, I’ll have to ask him. lol

      10. Anna Karenina*

        What kind of medical forms ask this? I’ve never had to do this! Im just curious if its related to neurologists or something.

      11. TardyTardis*

        Been there, done that, and my daughter is the same way. When trying something new, I automatically check with both hands to find out which way it’s going to work for me.

    2. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      We still have religious imagery in hospitals, non-binary support is rarely seen outside specific departments (OB/GYN for example) or programs for the LGBT+ community. Thanks for speaking up, OP!!

    3. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

      I was pleasantly shocked when I got a city administered covid-test, and at every point (two checkins and the test itself) the staff introduced themselves with their pronouns

  2. Observer*

    Like, you’re supposed to call them ‘it,’ right? Mallory told me to just call them ‘it’.”


    That is just horrific. And if Lana is right about Mallory, that’s just an added layer of trouble. In fact, that alone is bad enough that I would be keeping a very sharp eye on Cheryl.

    I think your response in the moment was perfect. Short, simple, to the point. And TOTALLY unambiguous, with no place for arguments or “discussion”. Of course, going to your boss afterwards was also necessary, but not because you didn’t handle it well. More, because it’s not really realistic to be sure that you’ve really put a stop to something like by even a PERFECT response in the moment.

    1. Hamish*

      Right. Please keep monitoring Cheryl for this kind of stuff. An in-service day on LGBT patients doesn’t magically change everything. I know my hospital does them regularly, but I still get my preferred name maybe 25% of the time.

    2. Dragon_dreamer*

      I do know one or two non-binaries who have ASKED to be called “it/they/them,” but they are the ONLY people for whom I would ever do so. I haven’t asked their reasons due to not wanting to pry, so I don’t know if it’s a self-esteem thing. It’s their business.

      I’m really happy that you stood up for your patients. I hope Cheryl gets reprimanded for trying to blame Mallory.

      I’m genderfluid myself, and gave up long ago on caring what pronouns people use. I’m not fond of they/them for myself, and some days I am male, some days female, usually both and/or neither. I’m AFAB and it took a very long time to not feel hurt whenever people told me I wasn’t a boy on my male days.

      1. BubbleTea*

        I knew someone when I was at university who wanted to be called “it”. I was, and remain, deeply uncomfortable with that, and use “they” instead. That’s the only possible pronoun I can think of where I would not be okay with following someone’s preference. It is just so dehumanising, and anyone overhearing me referring to another person as “it” would either be horrified at my awfulness, or even worse, see that as a sign that everyone refers to trans people as “it”, so they are fine to carry on doing that themselves.

        I do wrestle with the question though. Should I have respected the person’s stated wish to be called “it”?

        1. Dragon_Dreamer*

          It was their stated wish, to be honest. I’m not a fan of “they” for the singular as I stated above, but it isn’t MY choice for anyone EXCEPT myself. If someone asks to be called “they/them,” “it,” or “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” they have the right to be called such.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Eh, I think there are limits. If someone asks to be called by a slur, for example, I’m not going to do it. I think the question is whether “it” is sufficiently dehumanizing that it warrants declining — and the point about the impression it will give others of the speaker is a valid one too.

            1. Dragon_Dreamer*

              That’s a good point. I used “they” because both people gave me the option, but for someone who insists only on “it,” maybe a conversation with them and a compromise would be best. Reasonable folks, I think, would see your point. Unreasonable folks will never be happy.

              1. The forbidden pronoun*

                There’s a big difference between seeing someone’s point and being happy about being misgendered.

              2. The forbidden pronoun*

                For instance, it’s not reasonable to change a whole ecosystem of software to include “they”, referring to gender-ambiguous folks as “they” can cause harm to cis gender non-normative folks since they are more likely to get misgendered as “they” than called their actual gender, also it confuses people between singular and plural. But as a society we’ve decided that it’s ok to do that work so that non-binary they-pronoun folks don’t get misgendered, and I support that.

                I will side-eye folks who want me to be happy that my own gender is too much work, or who consider me unreasonable if I feel bad about this difference in treatment. I accept that this is how the world is, but happy? No.

                1. Dragon_Dreamer*

                  The takeaway message I’m getting is to treat pronouns like names? Even if the name makes you uncomfortable, people have a right to be called what they want to be called.

                  (Though I agree with the not calling folks slur nicknames! Or Master as in one letter writer’s SO, as I recall. Legal names that happen to sound risque in another language is another story.)

                2. The forbidden pronoun*

                  I’ve run out of nesting, Dragon_Dreamer, sorry about that.

                  I would certainly prefer it to be treated like names, and I think that’s an excellent way of thinking about it. Imagine trying to input a name into a drop-down list that had “John, Sarah, Elizabeth, Dave, and Other”!

                3. Jennifer Thneed*

                  (Insert standard comment about how the singular “they” has been in the English language for hundreds of years. Added bonus fact: Old English had a word that filled that need (single person of unstated gender) but when the language lost the word, speakers figured out how to fill the need with a different word.)

            2. gendervoidkillua*

              I feel like the thing is though-there are lots of people who do use slurs to refer to themselves. Queer is still used as a slur in lots of places, but I use it to refer to myself and prefer other people call me queer as opposed to LGBT+ or variations of that (to be fair, people have been reclaiming queer for a very long time, but there had to be people who started the process). I do think the point about optics is a good one, but then I feel like it’s also mitigated by just briefly explaining that you are using ‘it’ at that persons choice and not to dehumanize? Like, when I was first talking to my dad about queer stuff, which is an area he was……not familiar with at all in the beginning, I told him ‘hey, I refer to myself as queer and I’m fine with you calling me queer but many people aren’t so don’t default to that’.
              Obviously in most cases calling people slurs, or using ‘it’ to refer to someone is bad because it’s insulting and dehumanizing, but referring to someone the way they prefer isn’t that at all, and can help them reclaim their identity.

              1. Quill*

                The problem with Queer community agreements on what is and isn’t a slur is that it’s 1) intensely regional and generational what language is preferred 2) There’s a lot of people who are attempting to make queer, specifically, un-reclaimed because they’re uncomfortable with the community members who are not necessarily cis, allosexual, alloromantic, or interested in only one gender.

                1. Fish*

                  Yep, glad I refreshed the page first because I was coming here specially to point out that a LOT of current pushback to queer is transphobic in origin. (Sometimes you have to dig down a few levels of “well I don’t mind the word but I hear some people do”, particularly in younger places like tumblr, and then at the end of the chain you find a TERF.)

                2. gendervoidkillua*

                  Oh no I absolutely agree that a lot of current pushback is rooted in transphobia! Apologies if the original post didn’t come off that way, I used queer as an example because it’s the only word I personally identify with which…also has a past of being used as an insult? If that makes sense?
                  The point of it was meant less to be ‘queer is Definitely A Slur’ and more ‘yeah some people don’t use queer due to negative experiences but some people do and the existence of the first does not negate the second’ if that makes more sense?

            3. JSPA*

              “It” isn’t a slur.

              Unpacking “dehumanizing,” what we should really object to is, “demeaning.”

              In at least some of England, “it” used to be the default way to refer to dogs, cats, horses, and in fact, any non-human animal. One way to emphasize their status as fellow beings was to use “he/she” for a subset of animals, but that secondarily served to emphasize gender. Plenty of living organisms remain “it.”

              belle hooks chose not to capitalize her name, to shift the attention from her identity to her ideas. Some people in India have dropped their own surnames or deplored the use of family names as a pushback against the caste system. Some people eschew titles (be that Ms, Mr, Mx, or any other) out of egalitarianism.

              Well, some people also eschew “human exceptionalism.” If someone wants to be “it” rather than “he,” “she,” or “they” as a political statement of unity with all the living things, I’m not going to refuse. I would probably say it quietly, to avoid misperceptions, or regularly insert a parenthetical “[their preferred pronoun]” after the first usage in every document and conversation. But you’re not automatically feeding (say) someone’s degradation kink or identity problem, by using “it.”

          2. The forbidden pronoun*

            I prefer to be called “it” but get so much pushback from everyone that I don’t even try anymore. Plenty of folks who would be comfortable educating questioning folks about “they” are not willing to learn or pass on education about “it”. If I don’t get my actual pronoun I don’t much care which other way folks choose to misgender me though: “they” isn’t any more comfortable than “he” or “she”.

            Obviously I think I should have my pronoun respected as much as anyone else. I feel pretty upset about it some days.

            1. ThatGirl*

              This may not be the place for it, but I admit to being very curious why you prefer “it” — I think for most people it is uncomfortable or seems very dehumanizing and can bring up visions of Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs. If you and I were IRL friends, I would want to know more so I could do my best to respect your preferences.

              1. The forbidden pronoun*

                Yeah, I get that. It’s unusual, and even more unusual to hear someone admit to it.

                I don’t really know what it feels like to have a normal human gender, but the closest I can imagine to describe it does use nonhuman imagery: think of a tree, or a boat, or your favourite walking stick, something that exists in your environment and maybe you really like it or interact with it. That’s similar to how my gender is. If someone called me “he” or “she” like they do a boat or a car I’d be ok with that, and that’s kind of how I get through the day: I figure people need to anthropomorphize my gender to be around me in the world.

                I just… when people are using he, she, or they those feel like they’re talking about someone else.

                Maybe to turn it around a little bit: there are terrible people who are very harmful who use the word “she” to refer to people they harm (because of misogyny, folks do this to both men and women they want to harm) or people who use the word “he” in a harmful way, as a slur, to refer to women. But we don’t stop using “he” and “she” because of that, we put the blame where it belongs on the people who use the words in those ways, not on using the words at all.

                1. JSPA*

                  And I see you already explained it better than I, and from a position of firsthand knowledge. Glad to know we’re sharing the same planet! And, ” ‘It’ ‘s” cool.

            2. Vicky Austin*

              Your desire to be called “it” should be respected if that is the pronoun you are most comfortable with. Sure, some people will be uncomfortable calling you “it;” but then again, there are some people who are uncomfortable calling any trans/nonbinary person by their preferred pronouns. We tell those people, “toughen up and get over your discomfort; it’s disrespectful not to use their preferred pronouns, and I would say the same to anyone who refuses to call you “it.”

              1. Dana*

                I feel uncomfortable calling a human “it” for the same reason, and in the same way, that I’d feel uncomfortable calling a human being the n-word (if, for some reason, I was instructed to do so). Telling people to “toughen up and get over it” doesn’t seem like the right response to a form of discomfort which stems from deeply felt, and extremely important, moral values around not dehumanizing other people. Calling another person “it” would, I fear, actually lead me to dehumanize the person in question in my thinking about them; we know from research that the language we use affects how we think. It’s not wrong to have a problem with that.

                This is an unfortunate case in which there are real and legitimate feelings on *both* sides, and no great solution that won’t feel crappy to someone or other. :-/ I think it’s fairer to acknowledge that fact.

                1. JSPA*

                  Consider how many people “humanize” a subset of animals to put their love and regard for them, and recognition of their individuality, in a human type framework. I’m guessing you (like most humans?) already have a compartment in your brain for “esteemed being, not specifically human.” Being in that compartment may not be human-specific, but it’s also not “dehumanizing” in the sense of “looking down upon.” Add in how some people and some peoples have totemic or spirit beings from the vast, non-human parts of the natural world…

                  I can absolutely muster a context and framework where the “it” user is pledging their kinship to bristlecone pines, fulmars, deep-rooted granite, resilient-in-an-actual vacuum water bears, cicadas that spring seemingly from the bare earth, or whatever other part of the living world creates rejoicing in them.

            3. Finny*

              I agree with you, as “it” is also my pronoun, though I’ve yet to get anyone to actually use the word. I’m afab, and people go with what they see (so either “she” if they notice the annoyingly large breasts, or “he” if they notice the buzzcut) rather than what I prefer. Doesn’t seem to matter what I tell them at all, and I’ve yet to find someone irl who understands the concept of not having a gender.

        2. Sometimes an It, NEVER a They*

          If someone asks you to use “it” with no alternatives, yes, please respect that and *use the correct pronoun* like you should for everyone.

          Signed, a genderfluid person who might have figured out my second gender is “neuter” a lot earlier if I’d seen more people using this stuff.

          1. pleaset cheap rolls*

            I’m curious what you’d do with a person in the US asking to be called the N-word. I know I’d try to avoid saying their name.

      1. Observer*

        Not necessarily so odd. She’s pushing a viewpoint and isn’t getting the response she wants. So she’s “borrowing authority”, ie she’s using Mallory’s standing to justify HER attitude. I’d bet that she didn’t expect her bosses to push back and also to draw their own conclusion without perfect “proof”.

      2. PollyQ*

        No odder than her pushing back & whining in the first place. She’s still relatively new, she’s obviously working someplace that makes names & pronouns a priority, but she still felt compelled to complain about transgender acceptance to someone who’s training her on it, when she could’ve just kept her mouth shut. I bet she actually thinks that’s what Mallory said. I guess that’s what happens when bigotry is running the show.

      3. Barbara Eyiuche*

        Who knows, really. That section of the letter made me think of children who say ‘X did this’ and get reprimanded and told that X would never do that. When in fact X does that. (I will say this is a trigger for me.) Maybe Mallory did say that, maybe she was being sarcastic, maybe Cheryl misunderstood her. I would not jump to automatically thinking Cheryl is lying. Educate her, don’t punish her.

    3. Three Flowers*

      OP, please do not feel bad about getting this person fired if she *ever* says this to a patient. People who would do that are not fit to work in any field, let alone with vulnerable patients.

      1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

        Dinosaurs are supposed to be extinct, yet I’ve seen plenty of them walking down the streets…

    4. Anonymous Fed*

      We have these horrible form letters that we are required to send to people and businesses for a variety of different issues. (We’re not allowed to send anything that is NOT a form letter.) In the last couple of years we’ve been encouraged by our managers to select “they/their” instead of the usual “he/his” and “she/her,” even when we definitely know the gender of the person referred to in the letter. I’ll admit that I had a bit of a problem getting used to using the word “they” to refer to an individual (old habits die hard), but all things considered, using “they” is the way to go.

      1. TheEssentialOne*

        If you know the pronouns the person prefers you are misgendering them to use anything else. I’m not sure where your bosses are coming from with this but they/them is not the catch all they seem to think it is.

    5. JSPA*

      The outcome was horrific. But I’m not seeing someone who’s intentionally lying, nor necessarily unteachable. Just someone who’s never had the rudiments of training on current best practices, nor ever encountered the topic in a productive way in personal life.

      If you’ve never heard of nor used the singular “them,” there’s a point where you have to make a mental switch to do it at all, let alone automatically. A “does not compute” reaction could already be enough to misremember “it” as part of “them/they/their.”

      The level of discomfort doesn’t bode well either, of course. (Going beyond grammar confusion, “this topic makes me uncomfortable so my brain is shutting down” is absolutely a problem.) The ignorance and the determined insistence that this is a new or created thing isn’t great, either. But everyone has to start somewhere. Here’s hoping that this person turns out to be entirely teachable, if someone walks her through the whole concept (not just the recording sofware), starting from square one.

      1. Dahlia*

        No, she absolutely lied about what she was told. No one told her to call people “it”.

        And this person uses she/her pronouns anyways! Which she knew, because she had just watched them be entered into the computer. The person had very likely just TOLD her that her pronouns were she/her.

        Please stop making excuses.

    6. designbot*

      Yes! I think that standing up for Mallory based on OP’s knowledge of her (and how she handles this specific topic, since sometimes people we think are overall good people do get specific things wrong sometimes!) is another thing she got right.

  3. guest*

    Great story – a note for readers on terminology; it’s more inclusive to say “this person’s pronouns are she/her,” rather than “this person’s preferred pronouns are she/her” — pronouns are real and factual, not just a preference.

    Thank you for sharing :)

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I was just coming here to say this. Trans people don’t “prefer” their names and pronouns any more than cis people do; those just *are* their names and pronouns.

      1. PT*

        This might have a meaningful difference in a healthcare environment, though, if benefits are tied to your Social Security number and you haven’t pursued a legal name change. They will need to know both names, the one you’d like to be addressed as and the one the insurance company needs to be billed under/for.

        1. Dahlia*

          And the system is surely set up to handle this with Bob whose legal name is Robert. It’s not different.

        2. Pocket Mouse*

          The letter addresses this; info needed to bill insurance is stored separately and not viewable during an appointment.

        3. BubbleTea*

          Lots of people have preferred names, whether that’s a nickname or a middle name, or that they want to be addressed by their full name, no shortened versions.

      2. A girl has no name*

        I disagree; I’ve known plenty of trans people whose pronouns evolve over time or from day to day, so for me using the word “preferred” emphasizes two things: that it’s giving due respect to a person’s choices, and that people’s preferences may change.

        1. Dahlia*

          Those were their pronouns at the time, though. They’ve changed. My shoe size used to be an 8, and now it’s a 10. But my size 8 shoes weren’t my preferred shoe size.

        2. Maybe not*

          This. And in a healthcare setting biological sex is relevant and needs to be reflected as well, so it’s important that providers seeing someone know which is preferred.

        3. allathian*

          Yes, this. In a medical setting, biological sex is relevant in a way that it isn’t in other circumstances.

          1. TJ*

            But even if they did need to know you assigned sex at birth (not “biological sex” and they don’t always need to) I’m still not sure why that would mean you would have to say “preferred pronouns”? It could simply say Assigned sex at birth: M ; Pronouns: they/them?

            1. Brad Fitt*

              Pronouns for everyone is ideal. Since “sex” on most forms was intended as an antiquated way to determine gender (and thus pronouns), maybe just skip that part entirely.

              If they don’t already, they could ad a section to chart with check boxes for all the relevant internals–again, for everyone, because knowing (for example) that a ciswoman is not in possession of a uterus would likely be useful in some healthcare scenarios.

    2. Miss Marple*

      Thank you for sharing this preference. It is great that you have taken the time to show us hte diffeence one word can make in demonstrating support and acceptance.

      I am so excited that this letter was published and the actions of the letter writer.

      The way she handled it is a nice example of how those of us that support LGQBTI can behave to address non accepting behaviours in a non judgemental and effective way.

  4. Hamish*

    Blargh. Yeah… I’m trans, and medical providers are the absolute worst. I’m glad you stood up to this person and hopefully your clinic will be better in the future, but it’s kind of depressing. I’ve had clinics that tell me how LGBT affirming they are then assign me nurses who talk about my lifestyle choices. Cheryl isn’t necessarily going to change.

    1. many bells down*

      I worry about my brother because of stuff like this. He’s a trans man, he’s nearly 30, and he’s never had any gynecological care because he had a terrible experience the one time he tried. He was planning to move in with me last year but the pandemic put the kibosh on it. Hopefully I can help him this year.

      1. Dahlia*

        Maybe suggest Planned Parenthood? I know some trans people have better luck with them than with regular doctor offices. Also, they can help with HRT in a lot of places, which is cool.

      2. Three Flowers*

        It can depend a lot on where you are, but in some major cities there are explicitly trans-affirming clinics that provide primary care (I’m not trans, but I happened to live down the street from a clinic that was very up-front about welcoming marginalized patients including trans people, HIV+ people, LGBT people of color, etc). If there’s one near you, they probably keep a list of affirming gynecologists.

        1. Lucien Nova*

          Absolutely – I attend a clinic like that (Iowa City, for the record; if you’re in that area, many bells down, I will wholeheartedly recommend the LGBTQ+ clinic in Iowa City) and it is lovely. Also rather odd how I never would have been able to find care like this before moving to Iowa, so it’s rather a good thing that I didn’t realise I was trans until I moved out here!

        2. trans falcon*

          If he lives near a planned parenthood that does offer trans care, i (also a trans man), echo this! Got my IUD at planned parenthood in Philly and it was great. Well, getting an IUD is never great, but you know what i mean. If he’s on T, his prescriber may also have suggestions for trans-friendly gynecologists. If he has a supportive friend who can accompany him, even just to sit in the waiting room and remind him that his gender is valid, that could help. Gyno care as a trans man is tough.

    2. else*

      Yeah. I’m a lesbian, and in my experience there is a fairly large? or just obtrusive percentage of nurses who feel empowered and entitled to harass patients about “lifestyle” in the name of health, and it’s nearly always something directly related to my gayness and not to actual choices. I’ve also had a number of them who didn’t say anything specific, but made their disapproval and distaste pretty clear. I know there are a lot of conservative doctors, but I’ve only personally experienced one of them doing this in a patient setting.

  5. Momma Bear*

    Well done! And if Lana is right about Mallory, you can push back on that notion if Cheryl says it again.

  6. DoctorateStrange*

    It sounds to me that Cheryl possibly knew she crossed a line when she said transgender people should be called “it” and was digging herself into a hole when she realized OP wasn’t agreeing with anything she was saying and that’s how she claimed Mallory told her to say that. Hopefully, she grows and learns, but at least she knows she works in workplace that doesn’t tolerate that shit. If I was Mallory, I’d be livid.

    As for her claiming there’s more transgender people now as if it’s a “fad,” they said the same thing about lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals. I always point out to straight, cisgender people that the reason they see LGBT+more often is because they’re more confident they will not be killed so…

    1. Reed*

      This – “As for her claiming there’s more transgender people now as if it’s a “fad,” they said the same thing about lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals.” –

      I have had family members say there weren’t any bisexuals really 30 years ago, and I have to remind them that yes, there were, I was one, and the reason I wasn’t very public about it then was because of how massively unsupportive and dismissive they were in front of teenage me about LGBTQ+ issues, and the reason I am public about it now is because their disapproval no longer means I’d lose my home, financial support, and family.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I didn’t become public about being bisexual (am now pansexual) until I was in my late 30s, because largely prior to that I didn’t even know such a term existed. The one time I brought the subject up at all in my teens I was told I was ‘wrong’ because you’re either gay or straight (and transgender wasn’t a term at all back then).

        Even in my late 30s I was told I was doing it for attention.

        It’s like the ‘autistic people didn’t exist until vaccines/modern schooling/gluten/etc’ thing. Nope, we did. We were just called ‘weird’ or ‘insane’.

        I despise this idea that something is a ‘fad’ just because someone doesn’t personally approve of it. People don’t go through the pain and suffering of coming out as different because they were told it’s ‘cool’ this year.

        1. Dragon_Dreamer*

          There’s a tumblr post that was floating around for a while, pointing out that autistics used to just be called, “John, the quiet boy who don’t talk much but is good with animals.” My favorite example was, ““Oh little Sionnat has obviously been taken by the fairies and they’ve left us a Changeling Child who knows too much, and asks strange questions, and uses words she shouldn’t know, and watches everything with her big dark eyes, clearly a Fairy Child and not a Human Like Us.””

          The main point was, that the reason we’re “seeing” more cases of autism is that the modern world is just so hostile for those of us with heightened senses due to autism. Things are louder, brighter, busier than ever before. Routines are easily upset. This sentance resonated with me: “Disability exists in the context of the environment.”

          1. Cross and dominant*

            It goes both ways – societal tolerance for irregular behaviour has decreased and society has become more complex with more stimuli.

            “Jasper always sits on that one bench in the back of the church and will ask you to sit elsewhere if you try to join his bench” used to result in people not sitting on Jasper’s bench, now it results in Jasper no longer being welcome in church.

            A truck driver used to need a driver’s license and memorize a few routes. Nowaways they need a driver’s license, ability to navigate, read and fill out forms, handle a couple of IT applications, have adequate social and professional skills to represent the company and interact with customers.
            (This example is paraphrased from a report that tried to find an answer to why so many people are too disabled to work today, compared to the past. The answer: nowadays employers require more skills than in the past, such as social skills, flexibility, literacy-numeracy-ITteracy.)

            1. Chaordic One*

              This is so true. Yesterday, I noticed a listing for a janitorial position that required experience with MS office.

            2. WS*

              Yes, I live in a rural area where there’s a substantial number of functionally illiterate (and some fully illiterate) men, and I used to wonder what that said about the schools here, but then as I lived here longer I realised that it’s because urban society is pushing them out. You can get various jobs on farms without being able to read, and you can be a self-employed truck driver on local routes if your wife can do the paperwork, but you absolutely can’t do that as an employee driver or in most jobs anymore.

              1. nonegiven*

                There is a businessman here in my town that can barely read, he dropped out after eight grade. He is probably dyslexic. He runs multiple businesses but his wife does his reading and books.

          2. Tiny Soprano*

            “Disability exists in the context of the environment” THAT IS THE MOST ACCURATE THING I HAVE EVER READ.

            1. allathian*

              Yes. I watched a documentary once about the large Deaf population in Martha’s Vineyard. They numbered up to 1/155 when they peaked in the mid-19th century, compared to about 1/5,000 for the general population. Deafness was so common that most hearing people knew at least the basics of Martha’s Vineyard sign language, or MVSL, and Deaf people could participate fully in public life. This at a time when most Deaf people struggled to make themselves understood at all, and the rights of Deaf people to learn sign language were barely, if at all, recognized.

            2. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

              I’ve somehow never heard this phrase and it is absolutely the most accurate statement to date! Something as simple as my ADHD was never an issue when I had a routine (so, in my case, basically K-12). But university? Oh boy. My routine wasn’t the same everyday, and I had to learn how the how to function.

      2. Jules the Goblin*

        This 1000%. Plus the advent of the internet has helped a lot of queer people find each other — not just young people, but everyone tbh. Feeling like you have a community makes you feel more confident about speaking up! It’s not a new thing! Eddie Izzard has existed for decades and is just now talking about gender identity and pronouns!!

      3. Jaybeetee*

        Also… Freddie Mercury?? There are tons more famous examples, but he was the first to pop into my head.

      4. Quill*

        I mean, the queer population overall seems skewed towards younger members to most people because 1) we’re more likely to be out, especially in cases of bi, ace, and trans folks, than previously, and 2) our previous generations are artificially small because so many people died of AIDS.

        And personally, in the almost a decade since I figured out I’m ace, I’ve met as many people who are a generation older than me whose conversations with me went along the lines of “Oh, what’s that? Wait, me too!” than people who are my age or younger. Not having words for your experiences is still a problem a lot of people face.

        1. Cross and dominant*

          Hi, fellow ace person! Do you have any good way to answer the following question, which is commonly found on depression self-report inventories:

          How has your desire to have sex with people changed?
          A) I have no desire to have sex at all
          B) my desire to have sex has decreased markedly
          C) my desire to have sex has decreased marginally
          D) my desire to have sex is the same as it always has been

          And if you circle both – if you’re lucky enough to get the test on paper, rather than on the computer that only allows you to check one box – your doctor will count D, and you’ll be officially counted as “Not as depressed as the people who did have desire to lose” which can impact the treatment that’s available to you or how soon treatment is available to you.
          (There should be an adjusted scoring chart for ace people, in which this answer isn’t counted – so maybe instead of “You are diagnosed if your combined score is above 45!” it’s “You are diagnosed if your combined score is over a 42!”, but there isn’t.)

          1. Quill*

            Personally my approach was to find a psychiatrist that was explicitly LGBTQIA+ / Queer affirming, not just “aware of gay people” and explain, but also my intake paperwork for all my mental health issues focused on the fact that I’ve got PTSD. So I didn’t get that specific score chart.

            Best of luck!

          2. Ace of Cups*

            Sex-repulsed ace here. If I have to choose only one, I’d choose D. Zero=zero. If I have the option of two choices, I’d go with the more accurate A and D.

          3. Another ace*

            First thing is that libido and attraction are not the same thing, so an ace person could still have a normal or high libido that just isn’t directed at anyone in particular. See: sex-favorable asexuals.
            That said, as an ace person with very low libido, last time I did an intake form iirc I went with D.

        2. else*

          Also, I don’t know about your peer group, but mine as a bunch of middle-aged cis lesbians is a lot less visible than we were whilst running about energetically going to clubs and evening social events now that we’re at home at night doing staid middle-aged life management things. Young adults are usually way more visible in general.

    2. Tree*

      Yes, exactly! My teenaged kids both have trans friends. I was a teen in the 1980s. I often wonder how many trans friends or acquaintances I had, and how difficult it must have been for them to have to hide their true selves. Yes, there are more out transgender people now – why is she saying that like it’s a bad thing?

      1. Momma Bear*

        Exactly. Keyword “out”. I have friends who didn’t transition until their 50s for many reasons. They didn’t suddenly exist. They were afraid to show their true selves before now because of attitudes like Cheryl and worse.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          My mom’s coworker only transitioned recently, in her sixties. My mom’s very happy for her, because she’d never seen her smile before until these new pictures on her facebook. It’s not the first story I’ve heard like this, just the first that I’ve personally been able to witness.

      2. HD*

        I think some people really don’t like learning new things/realizing how much they don’t know. That’s such a common attitude I see with the “these people didn’t exist 30 years ago” mentality. They’re feeling insecure about their ignorance and wondering what other knowledge they don’t have.

        1. else*

          Oh, that’s a good point. I think of those folks as wanting to have a box to put around what they like/want/believe, and to define everything not in their tiny box as bad/wrong/foul rather than just not-for-me. My sister is like that. I didn’t think about the newness, but that really makes sense.

      3. Lizzo*

        “I often wonder how many trans friends or acquaintances I had, and how difficult it must have been for them to have to hide their true selves.”

        ^^This. I have several friends who did not transition/did not come out until long after college, and the thought that they had to spend YEARS of their life playing mental gymnastics to evade their true selves…in some cases because that was the (socially and physically) safest thing for them to do…is so utterly heartbreaking.

    3. Artemesia*

      An argument that always astounds me. I knew NO gay people when I was in school — i.e. I knew no people who were out. I grew up in the 50s and taught school in the 60s. I had a couple of students who were clearly gay but I had no idea how to protect them or support them. And as a professional, I slowly learned that quite a few of my colleagues were gay. Two of my friends married straight men who turned out to be gay when they were long married and had kids. And a father of one of my Girl Scouts and a BIL of one of my kids have come out and made the transition to women. How anyone today can not be aware that suppressing and oppressing people for whom they are doesn’t change their gender — it just creates situations that are damaging to the people in the closet or being pushed there and for the rest of society. What’s new is relative acceptance.

    4. Cross and dominant*

      As an agender person who doesn’t experience dysphoria, I’m not out because I don’t feel like having to explain myself, having to justify my identity, and dealing with negative reactions. (Non-binary awareness is few and far between in my country.) I don’t experience dysphoria when people use gendered language at me, so the net benefit of coming out would be very slim or absent.

      Historically, and still in many countries across the earth, coming out caused (causes) you to risk being institutionalized, imprisoned, killed, rejected, homeless, unemployed. Essentially, there would only have been a net benefit to coming out if being closeted was also disabling to the point of needing institutionalization, or if it was making a person suicidal so the risk of being killed was actually an improvement of their five-year survival rate.

      It’s very curious, but when something becomes safer and/or more lucrative, the amount of people willing to do it increases! Gasp!

      I don’t feel I have the expertise to interpret research about the influence of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the environment and in our food, except to say that I personally belief they play a role as well.

      1. Anonymous because not out yet*

        Thank you for replying and giving your thoughts. My 11 year old child recently came out to us as agender. While their dad, siblings and I have shifted fairly easily to new pronouns and a new name, the grandparents are stuck in this “it’s a fad” mindset because it is fairly new for our child. They said they only started feeling this way about 6 months ago, they don’t seem to be suffering much in the way of dysphoria and they don’t want to come out yet anywhere else so in the grandparents eyes, it’s not real. This isn’t my (or my husband’s) take on it though. Even if it is a phase, we don’t care. We’ll roll with it for however long the “fad” lasts. Don’t see any reason not to. We’ve joined PFLAG and have found support in our community, but I just wanted to thank you for speaking up. It was nice to hear from another agender person who doesn’t experience dysphoria.

        1. another Hero*

          also agender and no dysphoria here, and I know I’m not the only person in my life who didn’t mind being called gendered kid words (boy/girl) but was always uncomfortable being called gendered adult words (man/woman), so the idea of recognizing agender feelings around eleven makes perfect sense to me tbh

        2. Barefoot Librarian*

          This reminds me a bit of my trans son. He identified as nonbinary during his freshman and sophomore years of college and went by they/them. When he turned 22 he asked that the immediate family (me, dad, and his sister) call him by masculine pronouns. He wanted to get a feel for how “right” it felt before coming out to the rest of the family as a man. We even helped him test out names (he settled on the third one after a couple of weeks using other possible names). It was an important transition period for him while he figured out his own feelings and got comfortable, definitely not a fad. It was kind of cool that he wanted us to be part of the journey in helping him figure out his identity and pick a name. I do think that part of it was that he know some of the extended family would be jerks about it.

    5. Miss Marple*

      Well said. Transgender people have always been with us and always will be.

      It is society that needs to change to not judge and include them and stop seeing it as a choice they are making.

      People like the letter writer help in more ways than they know

      The progress with lesbians, gays and bisexuals gives me hope for our transgender and intersex people.

      I want to see a world where eyebrows are not raised when someone identifies as LGBQTI and it will be treated the same way that you reveal you are ambidextrous.

      Apologies if my terminology is not right and please correct me. This is a new world for me and my born daughter in September last year identified as transgender male.

      The more of us that know people in the community the quicker they will be treated the same way as cis people, which is there right

      1. Jasper*

        Thank you for being open to learning; I’m 25 and came out as non-binary 8 years ago. I have a really supportive mom, but it would have been easier if she had been able to get that she didn’t have all the answers then. So I wanted to offer the corrections you asked for :)

        The first is that when you refer to your son, you don’t need to use language like “born daughter”. If you’re trying to make sure we know that you’re gendering him correctly rather than, as unsupportive parents would, using “transgender [child’s assigned gender]”, we’ll get it from context :) If it’s imperative to make his assigned gender clear, “AFAB” (assigned female at birth) is pretty universally accepted, with the caveat that it’s usually not necessary and emphasizing a trans persons’ assigned gender can be dissmissive of our actual identity.

        The other is the inclusion of intersex in the lgbt acronym– it isn’t *necessarily* incorrect, different intersex activists have differing opinions– here’s an article that lays out some of the prominent ones on both sides: http://www.intersexinitiative.org/articles/lgbti.html
        I’ve been not using it for the past few years, because at the time most intersex people speaking on it were against it because it was used to conflate transness with being intersex, and it feels more accurate that the intersex community is a seperate community with some of the same needs and goals. But from the quick search I did to find that article, it looks like opinions are split more evenly now, so you’re probably in the clear either way if it’s an informed decision :)

        As an aside, you mentioned society needing to stop seeing transness as a choice–it’s not particularly important, but while I didn’t choose to be trans, given the choice, I doubt I’d choose to be cis. It’s not offensive by any means to point out we didn’t choose this, but it is kind of food for thought, would it really be bad if we did?

        Sorry this is super long! I wanted to cover everything clearly and kindly, and I guess out of clear, nice, and concise it’s kind of a pick 2 out of 3 situation :) I hope this was helpful!

  7. duck*

    I’m hoping the commenters here can help school me. I’m confused by the need for the second pronoun, i.e., she/HER or he/HIM. It seems like straightforward grammar to me, and yet anytime a female or male pronoun is given (especially in a non-binary context), the second pronoun is added on. Help, anyone?

    1. many bells down*

      It’s just grammatical convention. Sometimes I see all three forms written; “she/ her/ hers” “they/ them/ their”. It’s more helpful when people use neopronouns – I certainly didn’t learn the possessive of “ze” in school – and I had to introduce someone using that pronoun just a few weeks ago.

      1. LGC*

        Yeah, seconding that – my first introduction to pronoun introductions was in the mid-aughts, when most people I came across that were NB used neopronouns. (And thanks to sb51 for actually remembering that word!) It’s just struck me as a holdover from that – or rather, it’s maximal inclusion. With even less common neopronouns than “ze” (which usually follows “he” in structure, I think), the grammar may not be obvious.

    2. sb51*

      I think it comes from people who use neopronouns (things like zie/zir) giving multiple forms to make it clear to people who haven’t encountered that set before. Also in person it’s a lot easier to hear the difference between he/him, she/her, zie/zir than just he, she, zie.

    3. Grace*

      I’m not trans (although I do fall elsewhere under the LGBTQ+ umbrella) so take this with a pinch of salt, but using a second pronoun tagged on the end sounds much more natural to me?

      In an email signature:
      Grace, she
      Grace, she/her

      When someone asks for your pronouns:
      “I use they.”
      “I use they/them.”

      To me it clarifies that you’re talking about your pronoun usage rather than just…I don’t know, just throwing words around?

      It also gets rid of the “but how do you use the singular they” question if you clarify right off the bat: they/them/theirs

      1. Ace of Cups*

        WhenI got tested for COVID a couple weeks ago, the staff at the testing site had nametags with names and pronouns in this format:


        It’s becoming more common and I’m behind that.

    4. CR*

      It’s just for the grammar, I think. And if you live in a bilingual area of the country, it’s she/hers/elle. :)

    5. Momma Bear*

      My child has a friend who uses he/him/they/them so depending on the person there may be more than just binary pronouns used.

    6. Jennifer Thneed*

      This is a thing that language does in general. I agree with the other commenters, and add this bit. There’s lot of places that we “redouble” words, and there’s other ways that we repeat information in our sentences — it helps with overall comprehensiblity, because, eg, maybe a noise happens that obscures part of a sentence, but the “extra” bits help you fill in the gaps. So: she/her is a way of adding a syllable and doubling the length of the word, which makes it easier to comprehend at the brain-processing-information level. (A lot of things in spoken language that seem weird and unnecessary have explanations like this. Language-use is complex. John McWhorter is a great source of explanations.)

    7. Teyra*

      To be honest I think it’s mostly just because ‘she’ and ‘he’ sound very similar. Nobody wants to be in the situation where someone says ‘my pronouns are X’ and you genuinely can’t tell if they’re she/her or he/him. This way it’s very clear what someone’s talking about, and what specifically they’re saying.

      1. Courageous cat*

        That seems somewhat difficult to keep track of when speaking, I wonder how successful they are at getting people to use it.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, this. I wonder about neopronouns as well. They don’t seem to be in very common use, maybe because singular they is finally gaining some traction?

        2. TJ*

          Typically she/they would mean the person uses both she/her and they/them pronouns interchangeably not necessarily as a grammatical rule replacing her with them every time.

          1. Boof*

            When I use she/they that’s what I mean – I’m fine with neutral or female pronouns (heck I used to enjoy male pronouns too because I thought that meant I managed to come off as masculine enough but now I know people would just get really confused and probably embarrassed)
            (not really trans but wondered really hard about it around adolescence – ultimately don’t really care – just vaguely wish I could be like a female spotted hyena haha)

      2. JB*

        No, that is not what is being communicated. If someone says they use ‘she/they’, that means you are welcome to use either ‘she’ or ‘they’, not that you are expected to switch between the two based on noun/object.

    8. another Hero*

      Sometimes it isn’t obvious. A person who uses ze/hir pronouns might often find people who haven’t heard of those before and occasionally find people who are more familiar with ze/zir. Putting both gives people the info they need (expanding to hirs and hirself is more conventional)

    9. JB*

      Just simply because it often looks or sounds weird to give a single word, and can often be misheard. If you’re not listening closely, ‘she’ and ‘he’ can be mistaken for each other, while ‘her’ and ‘him’ are more easily distinguished.

  8. HappyMom*

    Thank you OP for standing up for your patient. As the mom of a trans teen, these are the stories that make my heart smile!! The more people out there, like you, who stand up for others, the better the world will be. Thank you again :)

    1. Brisvegan*

      I agree whole heartedly!

      OP, thank you!

      My daughter is trans. The Cheryl’s of this world have made seeking medical care immensely anxiety provoking for her.

      I appreciate enormously that you took action to make life easier for trans people and to reduce bigotry.

    2. Mom*

      Another thanks from me too! I’m also a mother of a trans teen, and she and I both appreciate the understanding and health care she’s gotten.

  9. Emmie*

    I am very proud of the writer. I fail at this sometimes, and it bothers me. What are some ways people stood up for you in a meaningful way? Any advice for others who want to do something similar?

    1. Caraway*

      I feel the same way (about failing), but I’ve recently resolved to not stay silent in those situations anymore. In my opinion, I think it’s more important to say something, even if it’s not perfect, than to not say anything.

      As an example, I was in a graduate class last year where the instructor found reasons, multiple times, to express disgust and disdain for transgender people. The first time it happened, I was too surprised to say anything, and no one else in the class did either. But I kept thinking about it, and it kept bothering me that I hadn’t said anything, so the next time he did it, I said, “I don’t think that comment was really necessary.” That is basically the most mild rebuke possible! It barely even expresses any indication that the comment was cruel, or wrong, just that it wasn’t “necessary.” I wish I had said more. But it still worked. The instructor paused, said, “You’re right,” and moved on. During a break, one of my classmates tracked me down to thank me for speaking up. It wasn’t perfect, but it still let the instructor know I didn’t agree with his comments, and it let my classmates know that at least one of their peers did not agree.

      So this is a long-winded way of saying that I guess my advice is to not worry too much about saying the perfect thing but just to say something. I also did two other things that helped me feel better after that interaction. First, I spent a little time thinking about what else I wish I had said and what else I could/would say the next time the instructor said something bigoted and discriminatory. (As it turned out, he never did, but I felt better being prepared.) Second, like the letter writer, I took it to a higher power and notified the administrative staff responsible for hiring the (adjunct) instructor about his comments and that I didn’t enjoy being exposed to remarks like that in an educational environment. They were appropriately horrified, and while I don’t know whether they spoke to him, I haven’t seen him teaching in that department since.

      1. Emmie*

        I am very proud of you, Caraway. I like what you said about it not being perfect, but it was something. Given the power dynamics, I think you handled that well.

      2. JessB*

        There are some great tips here! I think the best one is to think about what you’d say if it happens again, so you’re prepared; and also that saying something really mild can work.
        Good on you!

  10. Robin Ellacott*

    General applause, but particularly for coming up with the twins comparison even when startled and appalled. It’s a great analogy.

    I’m afraid Cheryl won’t get all the way there, acceptance wise, but hopefully she learns at least how to act as though she has.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, that’s the key. We can’t make people change their minds, but if they at least manage to mask their true feelings and treat everyone decently and humanely, that’s really all one can ask.

    2. PersephoneUnderground*

      There’s no way to know at this point- it’s often a matter of exposure to different kinds of people. Some people who start out with really awful views come around in a big way given time, even to full acceptance. My husband used to have bigoted views about gay people, by his own admission, mostly due to the culture he grew up in (black community equating gay relationships with sexual violence culturally, plus raised conservative Catholic). He proactively supports LGBTQIA rights now and is ashamed of his past attitudes, and actively pushes for greater understanding of gay issues in the black community. So I wouldn’t write her off based on her starting point, especially if she will be meeting more trans people through her work- that alone can help reduce the “otherness” of a group. I’m not trying to be Pollyanna here, but I think it’s important to expect more than simple surface-level tolerance from people, even if we may not always get more.

  11. Jules the Goblin*

    I’m literally crying, thank you so much for this story! What a great way to start the week <3

  12. ampersand*

    LW, this is a heartwarming story! I’m really proud of you for being so thoughtful about this interaction and doing everything you could to help your patients–that isn’t easy, and you handled it wonderfully! I hope you’ll check back in in a few months and give us an update on how it’s going with Cheryl.

  13. EBennett*

    A perfect post for MLK Day!
    Thank you OP for standing up for civil rights and making your corner of the world a better place.

  14. Jaybeetee*

    Way to go! I think you handled this extremely well.

    Re: “I thought I should have said more” – I actually think going further and getting more aggressive might have been justified… but may not have been as effective (depending on your actual goal in the exchange). It was just something I wanted to note, as I feel like there’s this idea that you need to “school” bigots and hit them with some three-minute speech to get your point across. And while stories like that look satisfying online, IRL the person is likely just going to stop hearing you after the first few sentences.

    Ofc this is only my own opinion. But I think a few clear “That is extremely wrong” statements, plus running it up the flagpole to your boss, was actually the ideal way to handle the situation. Adding more to it might have just poured gasoline on the fire and made things combative. It’s possible Cheryl was chastened by the comments you did make, or that any further discipline/training she receives will drive the point further.

    1. Lizy*

      This. I’ve been struggling with my 15YO and at the end of the day all he needs to know is “this is wrong. stop doing it”.

  15. Vimes*

    LW, you are awesome! Not everybody can say “I went to work and tangibly made the world better”, but you totally can.

    I would keep and on Cheryl though because (a) I am pretty sure most people know not to refer to trans ppl as “it”(I could be wrong about this because my last job actually had a trans clinic so it’s possible I am overestimating general knowledge) (b) when you talked to her about it she doubled down rather than saying “oh crud I screwed up” and (c) apparently she lied about another staff member in order to do so. That is some very active bigotry right there.

    1. Lizzo*

      The doubling down on the (bigoted) error is reminiscent of the recent letter re: the woman who assumed the LW’s child was adopted because of their skin color.

  16. Nursecrys*

    Working this weekend, I happened to notice another nurse’s nails that I really liked. Couldn’t mention it in the moment, because we were dealing with a critical patient, but I went back later and said, “Hey, I noticed your nails earlier.” His expression dropped until I continued, “They’re really pretty and I love the color!” He told me where he had gotten them done so I can maybe make an appointment.
    It doesn’t matter if you’re straight, gay, pan or transsexual, we gotta support each other when we find good nail salons!

    1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      Hey, I know you don’t mean anything by it, but “transsexual” is a really dated term that nearly nobody uses anymore. “Transgender” or simply “trans” are the preferred terms. :)

  17. Properlike*

    Thank you, LW! Even if you had stopped with just speaking up to Cheryl, I would give you all the points. I’m so happy your workplace is supportive too. What lucky patients! And I hope that Cheryl will have the full support to come around and change her thinking so that she can not only be more supportive to the patients, but to someday speak up for them too!

  18. TiredMama*

    Geez, I don’t know why (I am not transgender and none of my family or friends are), but this brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for standing up for transgender patients.

  19. Dandy it is*

    Thanks for writing in on this. Earlier today I had to fill out a Covid form to see a dentist in a few days. It asked for gender and only gave male/female as options. I thought it was unwelcoming and inaccurate for gender non-conforming people. I was considering saying something but now I definitely will say something when I go in.

    1. Mom*

      Go for it! Editing poorly worded forms that don’t ask the questions that really need answered is my family’s avocation!

  20. JJ*

    I love how Cheryl/Carol/Cherlene is the one with issues about transgender people and their names/pronouns. The irony! :P

    You handled this so so well! Bravo.

  21. char*

    “Plus, I now have the opportunity to streamline our transgender patient policy so all of our patients can come into our clinic safe in the knowledge that everyone, from the receptionist to their provider, will call them by their correct name and pronouns every time, and our office can be a safe place for them to get the healthcare they need!”

    This sounds amazing! I wish every medical practice would be this thoughtful. Like, the ONLY medical provider I’ve ever been to that actually gets this right is the clinic I go to for my hormones that specifically caters to the LGBT+ population. In fact, I started using that clinic for primary care as well even though it’s pretty far from where I live, just because it’s the only place I can find that understands and respects trans people.

    All my other doctors act like being trans is some sort of bizarre medical issue that they’re not quite sure how to approach. Heck, I was even repeatedly misgendered (by receptionists and nurses) during one of my gender-affirming surgeries…

    1. Dragon_Dreamer*

      I have to wonder if adding answering “genderfluid” to the “M/F/Other” question on my intake questionnaire at the hospital where I first tried to get my reduction surgery done had consequences. It was a Catholic hospital, and once the doctor found out how much I wanted removed (more than the traditional surgery would allow), she had to refuse to do it. Apparently beyond a certain point, that hospital considered it transgender surgery and that was verboten.

      I found out later, after finding another surgeon who WILL do what’s required, that hospital had allowed the same extensive procedure on a friend of mine. The difference is she’s cis female. I did make sure Medicaid, who is paying for the procedure 100%, was informed. The insurance rep had found my new surgeon for me, by getting a one time waiver setup. (The new doc doesn’t usually take Medicaid.)

      1. WS*

        From personal experience at a Catholic hospital, I would suspect that it absolutely did. I’d been there before for gastrointestinal surgery, which was fine, but as soon as it was involving reproductive healthcare, no go, and a lot of hostility from a small number of staff.

        1. Dragon_Dreamer*

          Urf. Thanks for the confirmation, I thought as much. It’s annoying that the ONLY two hospitals/surgeons in my area who take Medicaid for reductions work for Catholic hospitals. The rest of the hospitals and practices don’t. The insurance rep had to find a hospital 2 hours and over 50 miles away, and as I said, it was a special arrangement.

          1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*


            I have so many thoughts on our local “Catholic” hospital system…and they aren’t very kind for the most part. The ways in which they treat their employees are not particularly Christian. I’m just lucky I can choose between more than one hospital system in my location as I know that not everyone has that ability.

    2. trans falcon*

      What is with the misgendering during gender-affirming surgeries?? Happened to me too, and also my ex-girlfriend. Like…what do you think i’m here for? Boggles the mind.

      Which is to say- OP, do keep an eye on Cheryl! This is a good step, but probably the beginning of a longer-term inclusivity project.

  22. RagingADHD*

    I’m glad you mentioned that about Mallory, because my first thought reading the story was that if Cheryl is ignorant and her superior is leading her wrong, Mallory is the bigger problem.

    But it sounds like she was putting words in Mallory’s mouth.

  23. WoodswomanWrites*

    This is such a fantastic story. While Cheryl’s attitude may not change at least in the short term, her ability to voice her bigotry has been quashed. OP, thank you for standing up for your transgender patients!

  24. Watson*

    Cheryl was wrong, no question. But we seem to be dismissing the idea that Mallory may have actually told her this out of hand, because Lana believe she wouldn’t do that. Now, I obviously I don’t know the people involved here, and Cheryl may not be the most reliable witness, but I think we have to acknowledge the possibily that Mallory, while being very caring towards her patients to their faces, may actually harbor some of those feelings.

    I have heard coworkers say very nasty things and use use slurs when referring to people people of certain religions and races, after being so sweet and nice to their faces, only to be told by management that “X is such a caring and open minded person, they would never say something like that, I know them.”

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, this is really awful. I wonder where they get the idea that this is okay to do at work? I mean, obviously, the crucial thing is that they don’t treat their clients badly to their face. But medical prejudices being what they are, given how even cis women don’t always get taken seriously with health issues, that sort of bias absolutely needs to be eliminated.

      The thing is, managers are deluding themselves if they think their employees always show their true selves to them.

  25. Pyjamas*

    – Cheryl says to OP, “Mallory told me X”
    – OP reports to boss
    – Boss says, “Mallory is a wonderful provider and would never say X!”
    – OP agrees Cheryl must have lied.

    Wouldn’t a dream boss at least check in with Mallory?

    1. Watson*

      I doubt Mallory would admit it if she did, but I think some training is advisable for everyone who works there, not just Cheryl.

  26. Vicky Austin*

    You absolutely did the right thing. However, there are some people who prefer the pronoun “it.” My mother used to work with such a person.

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      There is one person who prefers that pronoun. There might be others. (Also, I don’t actually know what that person prefers, I only know what you told me your mother said. Unless it was a direct quote and we’re certain that sarcasm wasn’t involved, I have to remind myself that people are often unreliable witnesses because of how memory works.)

    2. Observer*

      That’s not really relevant here – this was not about people who WANT to use the pronoun it, but about someone who is trying to shoe horn people into a negative box.

  27. SheLooksFamiliar*

    OP, I really needed your story today, and thank you for what you did for your nonbinary patients. You rock!

  28. Quinalla*

    This has so great and has inspired me to do some push back of my own around our newly released parental leave policy. I was hesitant to bring it up because they did a great job in most of one, but one part is very much not inclusive of trans and nonbinary people, so I am going to bring it up. I know one reason they rewrote it was to improve inclusivity, so I need to give that feedback, thanks OP!

  29. jolene*

    Excellent job of respecting the patient while still, thank goodness, acknowledging their biological sex. That respects their dignity without denying reality – which would prevent them getting optimal medical care.

    Really, people have been using transpeople’s pronouns for at least three decades, in my personal experience. I’m baffled that people are unable to respect how others identify while also ensuring that they have the medical care appropriate for their actual body.

  30. For goodness sakes, wash your hands!*

    You are amazing, OP! This is a great example of advocacy and allyship.

  31. Lucien Nova*

    As a trans man, I am so happy with this, OP. Thank you so much for standing up for trans people, you are lovely.

  32. Germaine Firestone*

    Removed. This is from someone who left transphobic comments all over the AAM Facebook page recently. She’s banned there and is now banned here too. – Alison

  33. ErgoBun*

    Thank you for speaking up. My sister is trans and I often fear that world is going to be not only unkind but outright violent to her. It lifts my heart to know there are people out there who stand up for others that they don’t even know, just because it’s the right thing to do. Thank you.

  34. ndawn90*

    OP here.

    First of all, I want to say THANK YOU so much to AAM for publishing my letter! The experience was so surreal when it happened, and even though I understand my personal ethics, it’s always nice to have some affirmation. I really hope my story shows that sometimes when you speak up, good things happen.

    Also, THANK YOU to all of the commenters! Your feedback has really made my day!!

    Since this originally happened a few months ago, I’m happy (shaudenfreude, perhaps?) to report that Cheryl no longer works here. She had a lot of other issues going on… I also completed my write-up for the in-service and it’s just going through mental health and the providers, then we’ll schedule a time to go through it with the rest of the staff!

    Some people have asked if it’s possible that Mallory did tell Cheryl to say that, and I’m going to say No, and here’s why:

    Our clinic is such that the doctors are all part owners in it. The company as a whole has a CEO and a board, but each individual clinic is under the purview of the doctor-partners. Lana may not have told me directly, but a huge portion of her job is talking with the doctor-partners on how they want their clinic run, and Mallory is the most senior of the doctor-partners. In short, I would not have been given permission to do an in-service without Mallory and the other providers’ input. So, no, I don’t think Mallory said that, and although I might not personally have witnessed it, Mallory is aware of what happened and Cheryl most likely got a talking to from one or both of them, which may have facilitated her exit.

    As for where the comment came from, my theory is that Mallory may have said something about using ‘they/them’ pronouns, and somehow Cheryl got it confused or it ran through a bigotry filter. It’s also entirely possible she straight up lied and borrowed Mallory’s authority to give herself credibility.

    There’s a story arc on ’30 Rock’ where Jon Hamm plays this doctor who is really attractive, but it turns out he’s actually not very bright at all and essentially his looks allowed him to continuously fail upwards until he was completely out of his depth and everyone around him wondered how on earth he got through medical school.

    Cheryl is like that in real life.

    So, frankly it could be anything from ignorance, stupidity, dishonesty, or prejudice, and any combination of the above.

    Thanks again for your kind comments! I really appreciate it!!

  35. Des*

    Awesome OP is awesome. I particularly like how your entire letter is full of solutions rather than just problems. Go you!

  36. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

    I don’t know how common it is in medical systems (given that I don’t work in that area, am cis-gendered, and have been with the same doctors long enough that I don’t remember if there was anything on the paperwork when I first filled it out) but I love that there is movement toward recognizing a need for both pronouns and biological sex. I think it will help a lot with making sure people are receiving the medical treatment they need. It would also help with confusion, like the time I took a friend to the ER for (what turned out to be) a ruptured ovarian cyst. Having had that and appendicitis I was familiar with the difference and encouraged them to put it as a concern on the intake paperwork, but when the nurse came in with a chart with a gender neutral name, biologically female concern, and apparently a man and a woman in the room, he started talking to me not realizing he had a trans patient. (Quick explanation from the person not in severe pain and he was awesome.)

  37. Anonynonymouse*

    Thank you so much for saying something, anything at all! The in-service is icing on the cake.
    I’m getting nervous about my son’s next physical, because he hadn’t come out as transgender at the time of last year’s physical. But he was hospitalized in October and the hospital staff was wonderful, and the person I’ve been working with to set up some evaluations had also been fantastic, not missing a beat when I said my child is transgender – “We need the legal name for insurance but have the preferred name for the appointments.”

    It really doesn’t have to be very hard, and every time someone speaks up, it helps drive that home.

  38. millennial in tech*

    as another trans person with a looooong history of absolutely miserable experiences and run-ins with medical staff….THANK YOU.
    it’s especially nice to see this today, when montana started debated a bill that would ban trans youth from accessing affirming care.

    we will get there. and allies like OP are so important.

  39. KuklaRed*

    This warms the cockles of my (sometimes) cold, cynical heart. Thank you so much for speaking up and bringing this to your boss’ attention. It is so important that we all speak up when we witness an injustice.

  40. E*

    Oh my. Calling anybody ‘it’, regardless of any concerns whatsoever about “younger and younger”, the Keira Bell case, etc, is so far beyond the realms of acceptability that I’m truly shocked.

    1. Clarification*

      I see above that this was deemed irrelevant for this post. I disagree. True, it was irrelevant for *that patient*, but OP said:

      > Don’t call anyone ‘it,’ that’s really dehumanizing.

      And there have been comments like the above:

      > Calling anybody ‘it’ [..] is so far beyond the realms of acceptability that I’m truly shocked.

      So I think it is worth explicitly clarifying that “it” pronouns are just as valid as any other nonbinary pronoun.

      1. Barb*

        Come on, you’re saying that telling someone that uses “it” in a deragatory way that “it” can be a valid pronoun is going to be productive and not a disaster… The rest of us that actually have to interact with people (most of whom have never heard of nonbinary before) don’t need these sorts of draining edgelord arguments.

        1. Dee*

          As a nonbinary person who doesn’t use it pronouns:

          I can absolutely see where the case can be made that the person in op’s letter would have been counter-productively confused to be told some people use “it” pronouns.
          However, I can also absolutely see where saying it in this particular environment and in response to statements that declare otherwise, can be important.

          Like my view is that it’s kind of off topic to the exact situation of the letter, but that it’s important to correct misconceptions about gender-related issues when appropriate.

  41. ...because that's how you get ants!*

    Thank you for doing this work, but also: Thank you for finally giving me the Archer-themed post of my dreams.

  42. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    Why do people think it is a new thing? it is not by a long shot. It’s just that, when Cheryl was in high school, people weren’t out about it, and the medical science was not advanced enough to have them transition as successfully as they do now. My mother is 83 and lived in Eastern Europe most of her life, know how long it took me to explain trans to her? 30 seconds. Mom: “what does trans mean?” Me: “Remember so-and-so in our home town? They were about your and Dad’s age and worked as a stylist?” Mom: “OHHHH yes I get it” Boom, done.

  43. mythopoeia*

    “I responded that I didn’t have any friends who were twins in high school, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t exist back then.”

    I am filing this away in case I ever need to use it. What a great response.

  44. PolarVortex*

    Thank you. Honestly, just thank you. I’m transmasculine, and I love your place is so respectful of pronoun/names. I joke the only people who call me by my legal name are medical providers and the government.

    With violence against transpeople – particularly transwomen and moreso transwomen of color – going up and up, we need voices like yours now more than ever.

  45. ACM*

    For someone who thought s/he didn’t react well in the moment, I’m actually pretty impressed at the twin analogy you pulled out on the fly. If Cheryl had truly been seeking understanding, that should’ve made her go, “Huh!” But it didn’t.

  46. Sleepy*

    I had a coworker, Jane, who was expressing some discomfort with the identity of a nonbinary teen she was working with, also expressing the view that it was a trend. I said, “Remember is that LGBTQ teens have an incredibly high rate of depression and suicide. The important thing is not our opinion of their identity, it’s that we make them feel safe and welcomed.” She fell completely silent and we ended the conversation.

    After that, though, Jane apparently totally rethought her attitude toward the nonbinary student because she’s now a role model and advocate within our organization for how we show respect for trans teens.

    1. PersephoneUnderground*

      This is a great story, thanks for sharing it! It’s similar to my go-to when people grumble about neopronouns or the idea of asking for someone’s pronouns. Trans people have enough to deal with, evidenced by high suicide rates. Cis people can afford to inconvenience ourselves a tiny bit to avoid making the lives of trans people any harder.

    2. I take tea*

      Oh, I love to hear stories where people rethink their assumptions. It’s even better than a transphobe getting fired, satisfying as it can be, because anybody who really changes their minds are good allies. Go Jane! And Sleepy, of course.

  47. ArtK*

    You did very, very well, OP!

    As a side note, I’m a developer on a very large medical records system and modeling all of the combinations of gender, gender identity and sexuality is a challenge, but very necessary. Any system that doesn’t do that is hiding critical information from providers.

  48. Althea*

    This reminds me of the episode on Longest Shortest Time podcast. The episodes were about the adventures in parenting of this particular couple, a transgender man and a gay man. At one point, they went to the doctor’s office, I think to schedule an ultrasound. No one in that doctor’s office batted an eye scheduling an ultrasound for a man, or had hesitancy around say “Mr. So-and-so.” He took a moment to explain to the audience how he recognized all the work that went into that, and how rare it is to experience it, because everyone in the place really needs to be on board and well-trained. Hope this doctor’s office is a place like that, with OP’s help!

  49. Christina*

    Thank you to the OP for doing the right thing. I have so many trans and NB friends with horror stories about health care professionals who don’t have any trans competency. This is the kind of thing that helps to slowly change the tide so trans people are treated like humans and receive the level of care they should from their care professionals. Thanks again!

  50. The Kerosene Kid*

    Trans person currently navigating important aspects of medical transition right now, so I’m talking to a lot of doctors, nurses, and insurance people. I have been lucky to have mostly respectful care providers, but I am the exception in that regard in my friend group/community. Thank you times a million for this story and for your actions. It would be 100% worth it even if you just educated one person, but I am certain what you did here will have a positive ripple effect. You’re wonderful.

  51. randomskittles*

    I just want to say thank you. I identify as gender fluid (they/them) and this gives me so much hope

Comments are closed.