Equality Institute

Equality Insights Blog

Recovering from Misgendering a Guest

Misgendering is the act of using the wrong pronoun or term to describe someone's gender. An example of this is if an associate uses the word "sir" when addressing a person who identifies as female or gender non-binary. 

So, your team member has accidentally offended a transgender or gender nonconforming guest by using the wrong pronoun. Now you have a guest who is correcting the associate and the associate is feeling awkward or uncomfortable. How do you recover from the situation and keep your company's brand intact? Recovering from a misgendering incident is actually easier than it sounds.

Don't worry - this happens a lot. Unfortunately, for many trans and gender nonconforming guests, it's actually a routine occurrence. Our survey tells us that 82% of transgender and gender nonconforming guests have been misgendered in a public space in the past year by an employee. Here are a few comments from our survey respondents on how they like you to respond and recover from a misgendering situation:

Don't freak out and make it "a thing" if you misgender me. Apologize, correct yourself, and move on.

 

When they employee realizes they have misgendered me, and even though I never make a big deal about it, they get embarrassed and make things more awkward or even get hostile with me as if I was trying to deceive them.

 

 I am consistently afraid of awkward interactions where someone calls me by one pronoun, then decides they have made a mistake and apologizes repeatedly or offers explanations for their mistake. Please just focus on providing the service, not on your insecurities about my gender expression.

 

The bottom line again here, is to keep it simple. Apologize quickly and move on. Your intentions are what matter and if it's accidental, you apologize sincerely and you don't make a big deal out of it, the customer will be forgiving and remain loyal.

Has this ever happened in your space? How did your team member recover?