Sex Change

Alxmrphi

Senior Member
UK English
Okay, this might come across as weird but this is what someone I know brought up in conversation the other night and we couldn't agree.

Say BOB had a sex change, and people saw BOB and comment to one another (either):

Look! it's BOB, he had a sex change
Look! it's BOB she had a sex change

The first one (he) I thought was right because before the process of the operation, he was a he, and this is refering to before the op.
The second one refers to BOB in his/her current state and basically "she had a sex change that made her the her that I reffered to as she". I'm starting to get confused again.

Which one would it be?
 
  • CAMullen

    Senior Member
    US, English
    Awkward, no? Maybe you are right to use the pronouns temporally. It was Bob, after all, who went under the knife, and "Bobbie(?)" who came out. On the other hand, if Bob was that unhappy as a man it might be kinder to refer to her as "she."

    A former coworker of mine did this, and it's so incongruous in my mind to see her in the office. We all refer to "her," but my first, reflexive thought to make myself do so is "Horatio's name is Hepsebah" (names obviously changed to protect privacy).
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Yeah, I get you totally, but seeing as "had a sexchange" means at the time, it was a man, a he, him at the time who did "Have A Sex Change", a woman didn't have a sex change.

    So it comes down to, who at the time did it, or refering to the present state's past. If you get me.
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    imithe
    It's all in the verb tense

    Male Bob "had" a sex-change
    Female Bob "has had" a sex-change

    Obviously no-one is going to be so cruel as to force a gag out of this situation and say that 'Bob has been bobbed'.
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    maxiogee said:
    It's all in the verb tense

    Male Bob "had" a sex-change
    Female Bob "has had" a sex-change

    Obviously no-one is going to be so cruel as to force a gag out of this situation and say that 'Bob has been bobbed'.
    This is exactly the answer I was looking for.
    As for the rest of bobbing and doctors name, I am totally lost :p
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    imithe
    Alex_Murphy said:
    This is exactly the answer I was looking for.
    As for the rest of bobbing and doctors name, I am totally lost :p
    Amidst the jocularity and ribaldry, I'm glad to be have been able to help, Alex.
    (Any Irish in that surname of yours?)
     

    COLsass

    Senior Member
    You always refer to the person according to their present gender pronoun wishes regardless of what gender/sex the person had at the time of the story in the past.

    Saying Male Bob had a sex change is wrong if Bob is M-F (Male to Female) because she is now a woman. We live in the present even if our discussions often revolve around past actions (and future ones for that matter). The present state is the appropriate one for all tenses.

    Some people do have different circumstances and would prefer it other ways, that's why it's also better to know what would make the person in question happiest.
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    Well, personally, and I am aware that this is not exactly what you ask for, I refer to any person that has completed the metamorphosis from one gender to the other by the last gender's pronoun. Before that I use the pronoun of their original sex unless of course the don't want to.

    In situations such as the one of your example I take the long route. I refer to the person by her new name and say that she had an operation/transition to do so. If I want to inform someone who knew her with the old name, I try to stay clear of pronouns all together
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    imithe
    COLsass said:
    You always refer to the person according to their present gender pronoun wishes regardless of what gender/sex the person had at the time of the story in the past.

    Saying Male Bob had a sex change is wrong if Bob is M-F (Male to Female) because she is now a woman. We live in the present even if our discussions often revolve around past actions (and future ones for that matter). The present state is the appropriate one for all tenses.

    Some people do have different circumstances and would prefer it other ways, that's why it's also better to know what would make the person in question happiest.

    I disagree.
    Let us assume Bob to be very sporty and athletic.

    Male Bob is the one who represented his country at Rugby two years before he had the operation.
    Female Bob is the one who now represents her country in Downhill Skiing after she had the operation.
     

    COLsass

    Senior Member
    But just because Bob didn't have a sex-change operation yet doesn't mean that Bob didn't want people to refer to her as female BEFORE the operation. That's why it's more personal. It's important to follow the individual request of the person. A person's genitalia doesn't necessary determine their gender (if we use sex to mean genital status and gender to refer to their expression of themselves on the spectrum of gender).

    In addition if you refer to female Bob's past and refer to it with male pronouns you're liable to make her think you've forgotten what pronouns she prefers now, which could cause her anxiety.
     

    jimreilly

    Senior Member
    American English
    I agree that one refers to someone using the gender of that person's choice,whether referring to that person in the present or in the past. This might present some inconsistencies or awkwardnesses, but those things are better than what I fear would be the rudeness of disregarding that person's wishes.

    Some people, fortunately, have managed to cultivate a thicker skin than others, or even a sense of humor about such inconsistencies or mistakes. But even then consideration of the other person's choices and feelings is the first principle of good manners.
     
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