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Misgendering is the act of purposefully or accidentally referring to a transgender or nonbinary person by a different gender or pronoun than their preferred gender or pronoun.[1] For some people, this happens on a daily basis.[2]

Misgendering can be, and usually is, hurtful to the recipient. It tends to happen when the person either doesn't know, or is homophobic. These are not the only reasons, as sometimes it is a mistake.


The term "misgender" first appeared in 1989 which combined the prefix "mis-" with "gender".[3] The prefix "mis-" in particular means something is mistaken or incorrect, such as with the word "misprint".[4] The earliest recorded use of the term "misgendering" is from the 1970s.[5]

As discrimination[]

Purposefully misgendering a transgender or non-binary person is a form of discrimination.

An imaginative scenario[]

Picture this.

  • Person 1, who goes by the name of Thomas, is cisgender and uses “he/him” as his pronouns.
  • Person 2, who goes by the name of Jane, is non-binary and uses “she/they” as their pronouns.

What happens next:

  1. Thomas is a transphobic bigot.
  2. He says, “I hate Sally. He’s a loser!”
  3. Sally is upset by the fact that she was referred to as a boy.
  4. Thomas laughs at Sally as she is upset.