Things to do after you make a mistake about someone's gender:
- Just say, "Oops, sorry," and move on like it is no big deal. Because it really isn’t. It's happened to us before, and we won't hold a grudge. Promise.
We'd love to end this post here, but unfortunately, personal experience suggests that a second list is warranted.
Things NOT to do after you make a mistake about someone's gender:
- Do not blame the other person. Do not say that our hair or clothes are "confusing" or point out that we are "dressed like a man." Doing so is embarrassing for you and annoying for us.
- Do not overapologize (hint: more than two apologies qualifies as "overapologizing"). We realize that our self-presentation is not gender typical, and don't think you're nuts or a jerk for making the mistake.
- Do not use it as an excuse to tell us how much you support gay rights or trans rights, or about all the friends you have who are trans and/or gay. This takes a relatively innocuous situation and douses it with awkwardness juice.
- Do not use it as an excuse to tell us you love our haircut and "wish" you could wear your hair that short (hint: you can!).
- Do not defend yourself (after following us into the women's restroom and yelling at us accusingly through the closed stall door, "This is the WOMEN'S room!") by saying, "It was an understandable mistake." We will never understand why someone is SO certain that they know what a "real" woman looks like that they honestly believe that a short man with hips and boobs just walked into a clearly labeled women's restroom, ignored the presence of women and the absence of urinals, and blithely sat down to pee. Isn't it more likely that you just might have a narrow idea of what a woman "looks like?"
- Do not switch pronouns, then switch back again. Being "sir--ma'am--sir'd" is worse than being sir'd.
- Do not say, "Oh! Them is little titties! I thought you was a man."