What To Say Instead Of “Chosen Gender”

I’m writing a paper about wellbeing in transgender adults. This has me reading lots and lots of articles. These articles include phrases like “chosen gender” and “desired gender,” lots and lots of times.

We do not choose to be trans–we simply are. We do not desire to be men, women, or nonbinary people–we simply are. What we choose is to share our identities with others and to take steps to alleviate dysphoria. What we desire is access to gender-affirming treatment, social and legal recognition of our genders, and a life free from violence and bigotry.

I ask our allies to join me in using accurate, respectful language to describe transgender people. The little things matter. Next time you’re tempted to say something like “chosen gender,” try one of these words instead:

  • True
  • Congruent
  • Harmonious
  • Genuine
  • Honest
  • Authentic
  • Appropriate
  • Suitable
  • Correct
  • Proper
  • Rightful
  • Real

As in,

Transgender people suffer when not recognized as members of their genuine gender.
Transition allows transgender people to begin expressing an authentic gender.
Transgender people benefit from treatment that helps them present as the correct gender.

Readers, what would you say instead of “chosen” or “desired” gender?

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8 comments

  1. Lesboi

    I agree. “Chosen” implies that we have a choice and we are deciding to switch gender because we WANT to be the opposite of what we were born. I like the words authentic, true, and proper for myself. I’ve been accused of being the “Word Police” before but I do think that choosing the correct word makes a lot of difference when you’re trying to educate others and express yourself fully. Otherwise, people can draw their own conclusions and they usually are not accurate.

    • rimonim

      Language matters. It’s certainly not the most important thing, but it does matter–as you say, incorrect language easily leads to misunderstanding. I figure, if you’re going to the trouble to choose a word, you might as well choose one that is accurate and respectful, particularly in writing.

  2. Mxtrmeike13

    I’ve always said actual gender. As in, my actual gender is gender-neutral and transmasculine, not [insert incorrect gender here].

  3. Jamie Ray

    I like what you are trying to do with this, as it starts to address the gender hierarchy – i.e. the idea that some people’s gender is more authentic because they are cis. Or that all trans-gender is somehow performed. Thanks.

  4. urbanmythcafe

    For job applications, I like being asked “how do you self-identify.” Chosen or non-chosen does not matter in this context. What matters is that I am able to put an answer on the application that is not “lying”, because some of my official documents may not have the same gender marker.
    Needless to say, only a very few companies ask for gender in this way. They move way up on my “I would like to work for this company” list.

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