Wedding Woes

Point it out to her privately.

Dear Prudence,

I am a cis man in a graduate program. I am currently enrolled in a Zoom discussion group led by another graduate student, “Susan,” who’s lovely and kind. I have noticed on two occasions the leader using incorrect pronouns for another participant, “Tom.” Tom has never verbally mentioned their pronouns, but they are listed next to their name on Zoom. Tom has not corrected Susan publicly, though I have no idea if they’ve spoken privately. I have never spoken to Tom outside of the discussion group. I can’t be sure, but I believe Susan would be embarrassed to realize her mistake. Would I be overstepping to send a note to Susan informing her of this error? I worry that I’d be speaking for Tom or sorta-outing them, though their pronouns are visible and clear on Zoom. What do you think?

—Zoom Etiquette

Re: Point it out to her privately.

  • ILoveBeachMusicILoveBeachMusic Indiana member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I wouldn't say anything unless you are close with Susan. I wouldn't do it on Zoom. If you are close with Susan I would do it privately. If you aren't close with Susan, let Tom do the correcting if Tom see fit to do so.
  • Unsure but there could be a way to have everyone state their pronouns so it clarifies what everyone wants to be referred as without outing anyone
  • If Tom makes his pronouns clear then I think it’s fine to privately message Susan and tell her what’s she’s doing could make Tom feel bad. This is an opportunity to be an ally privately & respectfully. 

    Not using known correct pronouns is a micro-aggression and while Tom probably wants people to use the correct pronouns may not feel comfortable correcting others. But that doesn’t mean they dont want the correct ones to be used. 
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California member
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Considering Tom has their pronouns listed I don’t think it’s outing them. I think LW can point it out privately. 

  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I wouldn't say anything without first running it by Tom. They may be comfortable with having the pronouns out there, but may not be comfortable with someone correcting on their behalf. If they are ok with it, a quick text/email to Susan is all you need. 
  • VarunaTTVarunaTT member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    I kinda need more information.  If she is mostly using it correctly, but didn't catch herself twice, I'd probably let it slide.  No one is perfect and LW doesn't seem privy to Susan and Tom's past.

    If Susan has only ever referred to Tom 2x and misgendered Tom during those times, I'd send a quick email to her, just being polite and making the assumption it was a mistake.  Susan's reaction will tell you if it was innocent or not.

    My example is that I was running a tense board meeting, where emotions and opinions were high and hot, and two of our NB folx were misgendered by someone during a statement.  The ED sent me a text about during the meeting.  I told her it wasn't the time right now, it was an honest, innocent mistake.  I said something to the person later privately and they hadn't even realized and apologized to the people later.  I think context matters here.
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