Perrin in response to Jacob Martin’s March 27 letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

To the editor,

It is completely unacceptable to publish an article that persistently misgenders a trans person. I’m referring to the most recent misguided article Jacob Martin wrote about my friend, Zak Khan. This is not a good look for this paper or this school. You can’t say that you “acknowledge the presence of emotional triggers” and then write an entire article that does not respect a transgender person’s identity, obvious proof that you do not understand triggers. Reading this article as another non-binary trans person who uses they pronouns which are never respected by others, is just further proof that we are not seen as people who exist or deserve to be respected at this school or in society at large (like the proof isn’t everywhere else we look, too).

Khan’s pronouns are used clearly in the byline of each of their articles, which Martin must have seen after reading the article he is responding to. Misgendering them after seeing that is not accidental: It means that he saw the “they” pronoun, decided that he knew better than it and chose to assign a binary gender to this person. Especially when Khan’s has written articles addressing their non-binary status before, there is no excuse for Jacob Martin, and there is no excuse for anyone who assigns a gender to others without their consent.

For the record, before using pronouns for Martin in this letter, I checked all of his bylines for one that used a pronoun and have been in a class where his pronouns were confirmed. Martin has denied that we live in a world that consistently uses and exploits people’s bodies in non-consensual ways, then makes judgments about another person’s body non-consensually. Martin’s misgendering is an example of the rape culture that he has adamantly denied; his flippant suggestion that he has been discriminated against based on a statement in Khan’s article that did not cause him any harm or bar him from opportunity is harmful and trivializing to those who do experience discrimination. His article upholds actual systemic oppression—oppression that has been killing people for thousands of years.

Cis-gender, white, neurotypical, temporarily able-bodied, financially privileged white men need to stop acting like they know anything. They need to stop talking about people’s lives like they’re just theories. They have no understanding of what it is like to be systematically erased, dehumanized and oppressed. They need to shut up and listen, and I don’t mean wait around for other people to stop talking so they can spout their willfully ignorant hate speech. They need to stop posting articles that are triggering like they’re just “harmless opinions,” and the editors need to step up. And not let persistent misgendering of one of their own columnists just slip through. They’ve succeeded in creating an unwelcoming environment for anybody who’s different. Of course, that’s the goal.

m. c. Perrin