Show of HandsShow of Hands

EarlyBird December 10th, 2015 5:19pm

I recently embarrassed myself at the mall, so this question is inspired by real life: When you meet someone and can't tell if that person is female or male, is it rude to ask?

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kilotango
12/11/15 6:52 pm

When having a discussion with said person, just use gender neutral language. I do the same thing when I have to send an email to someone with a "either" name. Instead of sir or ma'am, I start with "good morning" or something like that. Better safe than sorry.

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googer11 Minnesota
12/11/15 12:45 pm

This happened to me too! "Pat" I did not ask. I was embarrassed to.

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FacePalm That Trick Never Works
12/11/15 7:09 am

I am sorry that you were discomfited 😳 but I agree with previous responders: she probably gets that a bit and was not offended.

Just asking for a name usually does it, there really aren't that many truly unisex names out there 8)
Otherwise you can always cover with a bit of verbal slight of hand:

"...he and I have just been chatting.."
"She"
"Of course! (Look puzzled) isn't that what I said?"
"No :)"
"Silly me - as I was saying ..."

8)

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geoag02 Dallas, TX
12/10/15 7:02 pm

It's possible that they aren't either one. There are another 30 something genders to choose from you know.

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musiman28 Cotton country
12/10/15 10:07 pm

No there's not.

geoag02 Dallas, TX
12/10/15 11:46 pm

I forget exactly what the Facebook count was.

musiman28 Cotton country
12/11/15 9:10 am

You're either male or female. Doesn't matter what Facebook says, I mean you can change your language preference to pirate if you wish.

cjrand10 Minnesota
12/11/15 11:15 am

musiman28, "male" and "female" aren't genders. Those are sexes. Gender and sex are different.

musiman28 Cotton country
12/11/15 2:14 pm

They are not.

cjrand10 Minnesota
12/11/15 3:45 pm

Here's a very succinct, simple article to enlighten you on the distinction: apps.who.int/gender/whatisgender/en/

Certainly there are various disputes and things to sort out when recognizing the difference between sex and gender, and also where they can and/or do intertwine. There are countless articles, books, studies, and stories that shed light on this topic.

musiman28 Cotton country
12/12/15 1:41 pm

Hers a simpler solution. If you have an "innie" you're female, an "outie" you're male, end of discussion.

logicalphallus Minnesota
12/10/15 6:47 pm

I've been confused for a woman before, I don't care. I'd look for clues as to what their gender is as opposed to outright asking.

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aclincoln memphis
12/10/15 6:40 pm

it's not rude to ask someone's preferred pronouns.

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musiman28 Cotton country
12/10/15 10:07 pm

There's no preferred. You're born that way.

Xemanis Neutral Good
12/10/15 6:39 pm

It shouldn't be.. especially not I'd they dress ambiguously

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sammibo Nevada
12/10/15 5:54 pm

It is rather insensitive though. Don't do it to be a jerk.

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sammibo Nevada
12/10/15 5:53 pm

Well some men have a ding dong and consider themselves a girl. Go for it and ask them.

Isomax TIC TOC
12/10/15 5:07 pm

Lmao! Yeah that's an awkward situation lol

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EarlyBird Portland
12/10/15 6:32 pm

Number 9 is the way I'll go next time. Thanks for the link.

Zod Above Pugetropolis
12/10/15 3:59 pm

You could always try the Crocodile Dundee method.

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badattitude no place like home
12/10/15 3:57 pm

Don't ask. It doesn't matter unless you want a date. Even then it doesn't matter to some.

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Kay41 the Midwest
12/10/15 3:10 pm

I think it is insensitive to ask. I read your story down below and understand that you might feel bad. But, keep in mind that this person chooses to look more like a man by the way she dresses and portrays herself. I'm sure this isn't the first time it has been confused with her. You did the best you could do!

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Diogenes
12/10/15 2:06 pm

I wouldn't ask as I love a good mystery. Today you never know.

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Diogenes
12/10/15 2:08 pm

Sounds lika she looka lika man!

No harm no foul.

lcamino on the move
12/10/15 1:59 pm

It is rude to ask. Just keep the interaction gender neutral.

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dfish at home
12/10/15 1:55 pm

Think about the golden rule. I wouldn't want to be asked if I was male or female, that would really screw up my day

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Injectable Mojave Mo Problems
12/10/15 1:40 pm

I ask their name. Not always foolproof, but usually a good indicator.

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EarlyBird Portland
12/10/15 1:57 pm

Wish I would have thought of that.

swjboucher Just Run
12/10/15 3:22 pm

Ya it could be Pat.

swjboucher Just Run
12/10/15 7:55 pm

I was thinking of the SNL skit but you probably never watched it. :-)

FckTrmpFTB
12/10/15 12:34 pm

Unfortunately this is tricky, if they are LGBTQ and that's why you can't identify their gender, then ask, asking questions for clarification is the first step to being supportive of someone's identity. However, if the person you can't identify is NOT LGBTQ, then they will most likely find it rude.

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IamPriscilla Idaho, USA
12/10/15 12:16 pm

If I'm not sure of their gender, I usually just check for boobs.

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EarlyBird Portland
12/10/15 12:20 pm

I couldn't tell if she had boobs because she was wearing a sweatshirt.

KAnne Atlantic City, NJ
12/10/15 12:24 pm

Not a great indicator though...

singkitty In the cloud
12/10/15 12:13 pm

It's very rude and probably a question that you personally don't really need an answer for. Would you appreciate it if strangers asked what gender you are, your age, or your weight?

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EarlyBird Portland
12/10/15 12:20 pm

Agree and that's why I didn't ask.

singkitty In the cloud
12/10/15 3:51 pm

I don't think you should be too embarrassed either for using the wrong pronoun. I mean how were you supposed to know? Next time maybe non gender specific pronouns if you aren't sure.

KAnne Atlantic City, NJ
12/10/15 12:08 pm

As someone who grew up with that question... Never ask that way. If you truly don't know and need to know, ask what pronouns they use. In that situation, I always say "they." It's not a 50/50 so I never guess. They could identify as agender, genderfluid, etc. and use alternative pronouns. I try to respect that.

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KAnne Atlantic City, NJ
12/10/15 12:13 pm

Anecdote: I had very thin hair so my aunt (a beautician) always permed it and kept it very short. I wanted long straight hair but wasn't allowed to have that. I wasn't allowed to dress myself either so I always had frilly dresses or leopard print tights or pink overalls. Super feminine. It hurt to be in a dress and appear so masculine that everyone questioned my sex/gender. Santa even insisted I was a boy even after my mom corrected him after he ignored my protests. I was so used to it that I didn't even cry.

EarlyBird Portland
12/10/15 12:22 pm

Ugh.. I'm sorry you went through that. 😢

Think Lovin Life
12/10/15 12:08 pm

I think it's rude to ask, but I also think the gender ambiguous person shouldn't take offense if they're the ones blurring the lines of their own gender.

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FckTrmpFTB
12/10/15 12:39 pm

Wow. Now it's the person your trying to identify's fault? How about leave their identity alone or ask them in a non-insulting manner?

Think Lovin Life
12/10/15 12:49 pm

FTB ... you must be of the bubble wrap generation!

EarlyBird Portland
12/10/15 1:22 pm

Fck, what's a polite way of asking?

Rosebud Ohio
12/10/15 3:39 pm

There is no polite way of asking.
While you should apologize if corrected, I have to agree with Think here (ick! Lol).

At one of my former waitressing jobs I called a boy a girl pronoun (I forget what it was). His dad corrected me and laughed. I apologized heavily, then turned it into a compliment about his fantastic hair. The kid got it a lot apparently because of his hair (he was about 12 fwiw).

And people have also misgendered all of my kids. It's a matter of correct and move on. People shouldn't really be getting up in arms about it.

Think Lovin Life
12/10/15 7:24 pm

Rosebud ... I recommend you seek medical help for that condition. It could be dangerous to your leftist notions.

Think Lovin Life
12/12/15 12:58 am

Rosebud ... are you suggesting that agreeing with me isn't a "condition"? If so, you're definitely over ripe!

RJ1969 SoCal
12/10/15 12:04 pm

We had a similar situation at work this year with a new hire. So, asked them their name...Taylor. Yeah, that didn't help.

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timeout Boston Strong
12/10/15 12:00 pm

If I wasn't sure I just wouldn't ask. :)

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EarlyBird Portland
12/10/15 12:24 pm

When I was talking to her, I thought about it but couldn't do it.

Squidboy Snarkapottamus
12/10/15 11:53 am

You were at the mall? That is embarrassing!

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MrMilkdud Pref pronouns Thou Thee
12/10/15 11:46 am

I've heard Portland is a veritable minefield for this sort of mishap.

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cato Santa Barbara, California
12/10/15 11:42 am

Why ask. I nod and keep mobi g along 😉

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dlaw4570
12/10/15 11:41 am

Look for the Adams apple, if one is evident it's a guy...unless you want to grope them

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IamPriscilla Idaho, USA
12/10/15 12:14 pm

I had a female friend who had an adams apple, so that's not 100%. Usually, I check to see if the person has boobs.

dlaw4570
12/10/15 2:07 pm

Was your girl friend named Bruce by any chance?

presrvd Phoenix
12/10/15 2:59 pm

Now, now. Let's not be Jenner specific..... =P

IamPriscilla Idaho, USA
12/10/15 4:08 pm

Lol no. She was a natural female. She was just very butch.

blossoming new beginnings
12/10/15 11:06 am

I haven't had it happen so I don't know what I would have done. Look at it this way, she's probably had it happen before so don't stress over it.

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think4yourself Not a safe space
12/10/15 11:04 am

When you say ask, do you mean ask what they are biologically or what they "identify as"?

imanag My heaven on Earth
12/10/15 10:56 am

I'm sorry EB, that sounds tough. I just gave my curly haired son a haircut yesterday. If I didn't, we'd be having people comment about our daughter and her pretty curls soon. 😳

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rons on top of the world MA
12/10/15 10:54 am

Do you have a wiener is offensive.

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Wink
12/10/15 11:07 am

LOL

RoDe Latinus wordsus
12/10/15 10:50 am

I'm sorry to hear that, but I'm sure that you feel worse about it than they do. You're a considerate person, so I know it hurts when you inadvertently offend. But it wasn't intentional, and again you're probably thinking about it more than they are today. I try to avoid gendered pronouns when possible but it can be tricky.

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aj1545 Cat Lady
12/10/15 10:27 am

I usually go with asking what pronouns they use, or just avoid them depending on the person. I dont think theres a one size fits all answer.

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EarlyBird Portland
12/10/15 10:26 am

I didn't ask. When my mom approached us, I made reference to "he" and "she" corrected me.
Very embarrassing. I didn't know how to handle it.

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aj1545 Cat Lady
12/10/15 10:28 am

I think just apologizing and then dropping it works well, not making it a big deal. Ive asked friends who are trans or androgynous looking about this and that seems to be the consensus.

EarlyBird Portland
12/10/15 11:00 am

Thanks aj.

aj1545 Cat Lady
12/10/15 11:03 am

Anytime :) in my experience they dont think much of it so long as youre polite and kind about it, which it seems you were considering you care about the effect pn them.

EarlyBird Portland
12/10/15 11:12 am

I was very polite but it's bothering me a lot. I keep thinking of ways I should have handled it.

political Georgia
12/10/15 11:13 am

No boobs?

EarlyBird Portland
12/10/15 11:18 am

Her mannerisms, hair cut, and clothing made me think male. The only thing that made me think possibly female, was her voice.

political Georgia
12/10/15 11:29 am

Come on, EB! You should know these days you need to really examine the chest area. If you need to, get really close to see if there is any bulge.

MrMilkdud Pref pronouns Thou Thee
12/10/15 11:45 am

Who was this person?

EarlyBird Portland
12/10/15 12:18 pm

I was at the mall, sitting on a bench, waiting for my mom. This person approached asking if I knew where a store was and we started chit chatting. When my mom arrived, I said to the person, "this is my mom" and I said to my mom something like "he and I have been having a nice chat".

EarlyBird Portland
12/10/15 12:18 pm

That's when she clarified that she was female.

political Georgia
12/10/15 1:14 pm

Hahahaha! That's great!

MrMilkdud Pref pronouns Thou Thee
12/10/15 1:44 pm

That's a pretty insensitive joke to make at that person's expense, EB.

By the way, when she said she was female, was she referring to her sex, her gender, her spirit animal, her wardrobe, her 5 year plan, how she was born, or how her parents raised her?

lcamino on the move
12/10/15 2:06 pm

EB, how uncomfortable for both of you, but you were not rude . Anyone could have that experience. I will tuck your experience away, and learn from it. If unsure, I will say "we were just talking "

Ebola1 Florida
12/10/15 2:07 pm

If all of those things made you think she was male she probably is that way for a reason and already knows very well what she looks like. I wouldn't worry about it.

MrMilkdud Pref pronouns Thou Thee
12/10/15 2:09 pm

What's more concerning to me is that you're able to strike up a casual conversation with random passersby at the mall. Why would anyone want to do that?!

EricMichael Casket Raider
12/10/15 3:28 pm

Gender neutrals could work "the two of us..." or "we were..." or "they and I..." Or something of that sort. Also never feel guilty to ask someone their preferred gender pronoun. No shame in that. But at any rate, you're good!

EarlyBird Portland
12/10/15 6:26 pm

It was a painful learning experience but it won't happen again.
Thank you.