I am the only expert on what a Del is.
You are, in turn, the only expert on who and what you are, and why and how you became this person standing before me.
We cannot live in a true and free society if something as personal as self-identification becomes something assigned to us, with little or no input from us on the matter.
If someone dies, this does not give future generations permission to label us in any way other than the way we labeled ourselves in life. If Brandon Teena identified as a man, then he was a man, and when we reference him now, he is still a man and we still use masculine pronouns when writing or talking about him.
If a transgender or transsexual person believes that, post transition, they are no longer transgender or transsexual identified, then that is how we refer and interact with them. Regardless of what their personal transition entailed, most notably whether or not surgery or hormones were a part of that journey.
If someone feels that they are not beholden to educate others about how they identify or how they came to that identity, we respect that and drop the subject.
If someone asks for pronouns or referential terms that don’t gel with your perception of them, you still give them the common courtesy of identifying that person the way they choose to identify. You and they can decide in conjunction with one another whether or not talking you through your perceptional issues is something either of you want to participate in.
To me, using the wrong pronouns or referential terms for someone due to your personal perception of who and what they are, is like meeting someone who introduces themselves as “Sam”, and you reply with,”You look more like a Joe to me, so I’m going to call you Joe from now on, and tell everyone around us that your name is Joe.”
It is the same when it comes to gender: if you don’t know, don’t assume. Either stick to neutral terms like “they”, or ask the person, “What pronouns do you prefer?”
A great example of this happened recently. I was in a bar and needed to use the restroom. The first person I asked, knowing my gender identification, directed me to the men’s room. Another person interrupted my progress to inform me, “There are only stand up urinals in there…you might want to use the other room.” Not, “You can’t go there” or “That’s for real men!”, but addressing the logistics of my situation without nullifying my gender identity.
Anyone who refers to a transgender person by pronouns that assume a gender based on their genitals is a disrespectful person who deserves to be forcibly reeducated. If someone corrects you, take it in stride and pledge to do better. Never, ever, ever argue with someone that the trans person is wrong or really should be referred to by other words based on genetics, especially when you do not know what the genetics of the referred are. A large percentage of people may appear to be wholly male or female, but may actually be intersex or transgender in some way.
If you read or see something that refers to people by the wrong pronouns or referential terms, at the very least acknowledge to yourself and others close to you how problematic that is. Do not defend or deny that others may know more than you about a person’s preferred gender.
If you have questions or comments about any of this, feel free to ask in the comments. I am accepting that I will answer whatever is asked in the best way I can, and I am willing to educate in this particular instance.