What would you do if you don't know the gender of a person?

Say you meet someone and you don't know if they're male or female. Say that you meet what you think is a transgender but you're not 100% sure. What would you do? Would you ask them what gender they are and risk offending them, or would you assume their gender? If you assume, would you apologize if you get it wrong? Or would you simply try to avoid using gender pronouns?

What would you do if you don't know the gender of a person?
(Picture of a real transgender)

  • I would ask them their gender and risk offending them
    15% (9)29% (11)21% (20)Vote
  • I would assume, but apologize if I'm wrong
    19% (11)21% (8)20% (19)Vote
  • I would assume, but NOT apologize if I'm wrong
    12% (7)5% (2)9% (9)Vote
  • I would try not to use gender pronouns
    54% (32)45% (17)50% (49)Vote
And you are? I'm a GirlI'm a Guy

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Most Helpful Girl

  • Dude... Lol smh. If you interact with a MTF transgender for more than about 20 seconds, it's *IMPOSSIBLE* not to tell that you're facing someone who was born as a man.

    Sure, you can occasionally find single still photos that can fool even the best observers -- but, those are *single pictures*. Photoshop is a thing... and, even in un-shopped pictures, natural variations in lighting and angles can do weird tricks.
    There are plenty of pictures of ME, for instance in which MY jaw looks like it could be used to cut diamonds -- even though I don't have a very sharp jawline in reality. Same could be said for other potentially "masculine" features. I'm sure there are hundreds of photos in which I might potentially "look trans" to someone who's slanted in that direction.
    Sooooo... If you're looking at individual pictures? Yeah.

    If you're INTERACTING with a MTF trans in person, though? Ahhahhahaha... No.

    There are HUNDREDS of *behavioral* things that are different, between men and women.
    Everything from the sequence in which they move their hands vs. wrists when they gesture, to the way they literally put one foot/leg in front of the other, to the way their shoulders rotate when they turn to look at things, to the subtle intonations in their voices.
    The ways in which men and women sit, stand, sit down, and stand up are all different. Etc.

    Also... There are HUNDREDS of PHYSIOLOGICAL differences caused by testosterone, too -- and those can't be undone once they happen.

    Most notably, men's hands are MUCH wider (compared to length) than women's hands. This ratio will *never* be changed, even by all the estrogen treatment in the world.
    As just another example, men's arms don't naturally hyperextend at the elbow when straightened, the way women's do:
    1.bp.blogspot.com/.../Womens-Weightlifting-05.jpg

    Nor do they have the same angle when they're straightened:
    images.slideplayer.com/.../slide_7.jpg

    (For women vs. men of slight build -- in other words, those in which the hand ratios are LESS noticeable -- these differences will be even MORE noticeable.)

    Etc etc. If you see a MTF trans person *MOVE* (and talk and gesture), I'm sorry, but it is just so

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    • 1mo

      painfully obvious. Anyone who "can't tell the difference" either (a) doesn't care, or (b) is drunk beyond shitty.

      FTM transgenders can be harder to tell apart, because they take testosterone, which causes virilization, which actually brings about lots of those same irreversible changes. You can still pick them out, **if** you know what to look for (such as the differences in hand and elbow anatomy, above) -- but, lots of the more subtle differences are actually reversed by the testosterone supplementation. MTF's can chemically castrate themselves and take all the female hormones their little hearts desire, but the fundamental virilization of their musculoskeletal base isn't ever going away.

      Bonus activity: Look at some male vs. female violinists. Note how the women hold the violins a LOT more out in front of their bodies, vs. the men holding them more out to the side (as a result of these elbow differences). The difference is real, kiddies.

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    • 1mo

      To be fair some of us have different features from the norm. People sometimes think I'm a guy or trans (both FTM and MTF) because I've got a jumble of characteristics, such as a square jaw and wide shoulders, no hips, but the hyper-extended joints in the knees and elbows (mine is severe though) and really tiny hands and feet

Most Helpful Guy

  • This whole direction is a fucking mess. I don't mean people being trans or even non binary, which I couldn't care less about, I mean the pronoun shit.

    The problem is, the question isn't whether they have a penis or not, the question is, what do they imagine they are presenting themselves as? It doesn't matter if they have a penis or a vagina, and it doesn't matter if I can -tell- if they have a penis or a vagina, the problem is I have to guess whether they want me to think they're male or female. I mean the case you give, maybe it's a tgirl not a cis girl, but pretty clearly she (i'm going for it saying she) wants to present as female.

    The problem is if I see, lets say, what i'm pretty sure is a biological female, with a boyish haircut, unisex clothes, no makeup. I -know- we're looking at someone with XX and a lack of testosterone and no penis. At least no clearly enough. What I do NOT know is if it's a transman who isn't passing very well but would like to be called 'he', or a masculine woman who would be offended being called 'he'.

    And we haven't even gotten to the people who want to be called new unique pronouns.

    People who want new, unique pronouns don't seem to understand what pronouns are for. You already have a unique fucking identifier. Your name. The whole point of pronouns is to use a fast generic replacement.

    I think we may be heading to a point where he/she/his/her/him/her just drop out of use, and we just use they/their/them for singular and plural third party pronouns, and that's the end of it. Which isn't such a big deal.

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    • 1mo

      "I think we may be heading to a point where he/she/his/her/him/her just drop out of use, and we just use they/their/them for singular and plural third party pronouns, and that's the end of it."

      ^^ Hahahahaha there's not a chance in sweet burning hell.

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    • 1mo

      I can't see it dude...

      Like, are you saying our kids' kids are going to start using "they" for SPECIFIC INDIVIDUAL people whose sex is NOT at all indeterminate?
      ..."Hey, my sister's gna be late, they're stuck in traffic"?
      •____________________•

      If that's what you mean, I will literally bet you $100,000 against $10 that there's no fucking way in sweet hell.

      If you just mean that people might start using "they" in situations where someone **actually presents** as "of ambiguous sex" -- and/or in situations where the discussion isn't actually about a specific person -- then, well, that already happens 95% of the time anyway, just out of politeness more than anything else.

    • 1mo

      @redeyemindtricks I would take that bet in a heartbeat.

      At $500 to 100,000, probably not ;), though I should.

      If they starts being used in a lot of ambiguous situations, not just theoretical situations, but where you're literally referring to someone standing right there, I could see it hitting a tipping point where people just give up and use they for everything. Because that's easy/lazy, and betting on lazy pays off.

      Incidentally, I wonder if a similar tipping point happens with things like washrooms. My local museum happened to have an exhibit recently on the 'third gender' in Japanese art from some time period I can't remember. Expecting a higher than normal demand for non-binary type washrooms, the two closest washrooms to that exhibit were made gender neutral. They just blocked off the urinals and slapped 'all gender' on the doors. Problem solved.

      Will that happen everywhere? Probably... not? Because urinals are efficient with large crowds? But I wouldn't be stun

What Girls Said 15

  • I would talk to them about whatever I had to talk to them about and try not to focus on it. If I knew the person's name... I'd just call them by their name and move on. Not everyone who looks gender ambiguous is transgender, and I'm not gonna be an ass and ruin some guy or gal's day who might be struggling with the way they look.

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  • I'd avoid using gendered pronouns up until i find out from a third party their gender. Had to do it a few times when going to transgender meetups. Typically like 10 of us meetup of mtfs and ftms and sometimes i genuinely can't tell which way someone is going so i just wing it until i find out.

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  • The image you provided looks like a woman to me.

    I personally would try not to use gender pronouns.

    But this reminds me of something really weird I saw yesterday. There was an obese man with a beard who had the legs of a woman. I had to stop myself from staring.

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  • You can ALWAYS tell a transgender woman from a woman. First , they are generally gay men so they have gay flamboyant tendencies. And no matter how good the work is i still can tell its like something internal tells me thats a man. I have meet transgender men who look 100 percent real and where tall they look male but i had that feeling they werent men. I guess you better use that intuition.
    BUt if i didn't know id ask. I mean if your trans shouldn't you be proud of it? but if the person isn't trans i forsee many issues lol.

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    • 1mo

      What? You have made a general statement this is mostly correct but for the wrong reason?

      You can tell if you look closely enough but not for any of your "innate reasons" you say. The Adam's apple. If you were born a man you have one and if you are born a woman you don't. You can remove or alter quite a few things on the human body but that Adam's apple? It's there to stay.

    • 1mo

      @Shiranai they shave the adams apple, the shave the ribs to give them a female waist line. Its called feminization surgery if you every watched caitlyn jenners show you see the transgedner women and how they redo every little thing on their body to try to look female.
      And yes its for everything i stated. Women have intuition men dont.

  • i would assume. however, if they happened to be any of these made up genders than i would allow them to move on with their life.

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  • I once got into this situation and just looked at his chest to see if he has boobs, he hadn't got boobs, so he is a guy. 😂
    And you can always ask what's their name.

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    • 1mo

      What if they have a unisex name? xD
      (Actually that's a good idea, I didn't think of that hahaha)

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    • 1mo

      I have got answers to all of them, muhahaha. 😂😎😈

    • 1mo

      Boobs aren't always the answer my friend has nothing to speak of for boobs.

  • I just try to avoid using gender pronouns. As someone who has been mistakened as a guy because my face is masculine, I know how it feels. I've been called 'sir' more than once and it's embarrassing. I thought that was a girl in the picture.

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  • I avoid using pronouns because I wouldn't want to offend them. They've been through a lot the last thing they need is an asshole like me pissing them off.

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  • I'd probably refer to them with gender neutral pronouns such as "they" or t"them".

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  • I've been in this situation before. I didn't know if my friends friend was a guy or a girl. The name was unisex too so it was tricky but I just kept calling them by name.

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  • I would straight up ask them, doing that is better than guessing.

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  • I thought she was a girl
    I just ask hi what s your name

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    • 1mo

      She actually has a penis.
      And what if their name is unisex?

    • 1mo

      keep calling them by their name
      or call them amigo man dude
      I use that with everyone so haha

  • I'd leave the subject alone

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  • I would ask them their name
    SORTED

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What Guys Said 23

  • I actually don't think transgenders would get offended. Sometimes I even guess it wrong with people who aren't transgender but simply a little different than the norm. I also regularly guess it wrong with kids. I think I'm kinda bad at this. It's not a big deal. People usually take it pretty lightly.

    It's similar to homosexuality. Maybe you've experienced this too... you talk to a guy and say something like "well, I'm sure your girlfriend has-" and he interrupts you to say "my boyfriend". It can be a little surprising in that very moment but the people who are gay or transgender are used to correcting other people about these things, so for them it's nothing special.

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  • So, let me get this straight... what you're saying is if said person had an androgynous appearance? You said who we may think is transgender, does that imply that they are not 'passing'? because there are a lot of trans people who don't look like they were born as the opposite gender/sex - specifically trans men.

    I've never had to ask someone what gender they are, - so for this specific scenario, I'd just wait to see how they identify/present themselves (e. g. name, dress style).

    If someone were to mispronounce their gender - they should not be offended. We all have our own perception which is generally based on a traditional system. All of these new additional genders are not registered in our minds if that makes sense. Naturally, we perceive masculinity as a male trait and femininity as a female trait.

    If I had long eyelashes, a feminine face as well as a feminine body - who am I to be offended if someone assumed or referred to me as a female? In today's society, if you are X gender but look like Y, then it is in your best interest to make sure your appearance reflects the gender you identify as if it's important for you. Otherwise, nobody should feel bad for mispronouncing someone's gender and nobody should feel offended if their gender is mispronounced given they look like what they're assumed to be.

    A simple solution would be to just initially state that they are X gender and would appreciate if that person would refer to them by whatever pronoun that suits them - especially if they are self-aware that their appearence does not reflect their gender identitification.

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  • I rarely ever use gender pronouns in a conversation as it is, so I could just hold a conversation for ages without ever needing to use one. And by that time I would have figure it out anyway.

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  • I would just plow forth and if I'm wrong, they can respectfully correct me.

    I like trans people just fine and they are one of the few groups that I have empathy for, but I'm not going out of my way to ask. If you appear as a man, I'll address you as such and vice versa. I'm not going to ask, which would offend more people than it would please. Imagine if I asked you what your preferred gender pronouns are.
    Most trans people seem to be reasonable though. Just the fringe ones (and strangely non trans) want totally different pronouns.
    And I have no patience for the non gender binary folks.

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  • Assume and apologize if I am wrong. I have been in this situation before. Sometimes I am wrong and sometimes I am right. They aren't going to take offense if they can genuinely tell it was an accident and you are gracious in correcting yourself. It's when you are wrong and then have a look of disgust or shame on your face that they take issue.

    I have trans friends and it took me forever to figure out what everyone wanted to be called. My view is pretty simple. I will call whoever whatever they want to be called but I am a heterosexual male and don't want to be called anything else. If I slip up and say the wrong name I will immediately and brutally make fun of myself while apologizing. English was always one of my better subjects so the pronoun thing throws me for a loop all the time. I want to say the right thing but my brain is so ingrained with "This is what you say in this situation, This word comes before this word in a sentence. That I often slip up. I don't think this is something people can learn overnight and it will obviously get better over time.

    I mean I just referred to myself as a heterosexual male and that word only started to come about so as to find a way to differentiate oneself from one who is gay. But this whole idea of dozens of additional pronouns to use makes my head spin.

    I don't know where the line is or what the correct protocol is but I know that assuming and apologizing if I am wrong is much easier on either of us then he trying to form sentences directed at people without pronouns and looking like a crazy person having an anuerysm

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  • Somewhere between A and D - I would avoid using pronouns but if I had to, I would ask which they prefer (in a trans case) , in a pure not knowing case I would avoid until some clue was giving.

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  • This is one of the things I'm terribly afraid of: learn to know "a girl" and discover it's a guy with a job done :-(
    You simply can't ask, you have to hope they tell you :o

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  • I don't know man all the Transgender shit and whatever you may have seems to be making dating harder. You never had to worry about that before. I tjink if they are they have to tell he person.

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  • I would address them by what they were born as and NOT apologize if I offend them. Feelings do not dictate reality anymore than they make Young Earth Creationism true.

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  • When you are addressing someone directly you can usually avoid gender pronouns as you say "you" and "your".

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  • I wouldn't care about that. I won't ask an ONS anyway. :)

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  • That one you posted probably identifies as a girl

    It sucks when you are dealing with a fucking man in a dress, who has 5 o clock shadow.
    "Excuse me sir!" And then you get sued for misgendering an abomination

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  • That makes me think of Pat from SNL..
    queerty-prodweb.s3.amazonaws.com/.../...66cb64.jpg

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  • I'll guess I guess, I mean it isn't really my fault if I get the gender wrong. I mean if they correct me nicely I will call them their preferred gender.

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  • I'd just assume whatever the person may look like. If she looks like a chick I'd say she, if guy then he. If I offend, I'll just say sorry babe

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  • Unfortunately i'd assume but if they would rather be called "she" or "he" then i'd use it. I hope transgenders don't actually get too offended when it happens.

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  • Well yeah I'd ask then better than getting shocked later lol

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  • Just try to avoid using pronouns so you don't have to listen too them whine if you're wrong.

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  • I'd ask what he/she is.. who cares to be respectful when there is something complicated? :D

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  • I dont know, never happened before.

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  • I would not talk to them in the first place.

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  • I will call them by what they were born as.

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  • I can probably smell it on them. I am very animal like.

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