Assuming AssumersPosted: November 5, 2008
So, I was at a housing fair today, collecting leaflets, free pens and chocolate.
It’s November, but apparently house-hunting season is already on for next July.
As I went round the stalls, I was talking to a number of different people about the options they might have for couples.
Specifically, I told them that “my partner will hopefully be coming to live with me”.
And they all, to a person, responded by referring to J as “he”.
Some people who read this will know that J – the partner – is indeed male. But I didn’t tell them that. And my hands were covered by the sleeves of my hoodie – no sign of any ring to help them in their assumptions.
It was infuriating me by the time I left the fair – and they weren’t even wrong. I don’t want to begin to think of how angry I’d be if J had been a woman.
Although, I wonder how I would have felt if they’d refered to J as “she” instead. Would it have been better or worse than if they’d called J “he”, and if J had been a woman?
They would have still assumed my sexual orientation, or the gender of my partner, or both, and they would still have got it wrong.
I don’t know. I just know that having J’s gender assumed so constantly in conversation made me very uncomfortable. Why couldn’t they have just referred to him, like I did, by saying “your partner”?