Storify: Mis-Identifying People

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.

Corrections are not hostility. Deliberate mis-identification is.

*raises hand* Hi, can we talk about a thing?

An identity is not a Get-Out-Of-Criticism-Free card. An example of this is an actress pulling out a bi card in response to trans criticism. HOWEVER, if you mis-identify someone mid-criticism and they correct you, that is not the same thing as trying to pull identity rank. I have see THIS happen too many times:

"This het woman thinks--"
"Er, I'm not het."

No, it doesn't necessarily make it okay. But correction when you have mis-identified someone is not Hostile nor Defensive.

In addition: It is not okay to mis-identify people purposefully to make a point. Calling someone white when you know they aren't white, het when you know they aren't het, [gender] when you know they're not = not okay. Identities are complicated and personal. You don't get to strip those away just because you're angry or the other person is wrong.

Identity isn't a courtesy we extend only to people we like.

I have this week seen someone say "feel free to criticize my opinions but don't erase my racial identity" in pretty much those exact words only for a pile-on of "being [racial identity] doesn't mean you're above criticism!!" when... yes... that is exactly what they said. It is not Hostile or Aggressive or Defensive to correct someone when they are wrong about your identity.

I went through this round the mulberry bush recently over pronouns. The mere act of CORRECTING someone re: pronouns isn't aggression. If you don't want to be corrected re: someone's identity mid-criticism, don't use their identity if it's not really relevant. If the identity IS relevant (like whether the book is #ownvoices or not), check before you start saying the person isn't XYZ.

Also: Work on precision. If you mean cishet, use that (not straight). If you mean non-black, use that (not white). If you mean non-woman, use that (not man). Very few identities have clear equal-and-opposite antonyms. "This person is not a gay man" is a fine thing to point out if it's relevant. "This person is a straight woman" may be suuuuper off-base.

Anger is a valid emotion, but doesn't magically excuse bad actions like purposefully mis-identifying people or shaming them for corrections. And as a transgender person who knows how violent identity-erasure can be, I'm not going to budge on the position that this is NOT okay. Like, if someone menstruates and wants to talk about that, their gender identity isn't a reason to shut them down.


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