What To Do If A Publication Misgenders You

Many publications are guilty of misgendering trans people, which according to Laverne Cox, is an act of violence. But what many people don’t know is that we do not have to comply with this mistreatment.

I am currently battling with Bust.com to remove an article about me titled, “Topman Sponsors First Female Blogger:”

I’ve sent the editor several emails and tweets and have not heard back.

In legal speak, misgendering falls under the category of defamation: the action of publishing false information which damages the reputation of someone or causes other harm. If you find yourself in this position, the first step is to reach out to the author or website on which it was published and request a retraction.

If they refuse or do not respond, the next step is to send a Cease and Desist letter on the grounds of defamation. A Cease and Desist Letter asks an individual, or a business, to stop an illegal activity. The purpose of the letter is to threaten further legal action (suing) if the behavior does not stop.

When going through this process, I was pleased to find that that issuing a Cease and Desist was easy and free. This website can help create one for you. You will have to give them a credit card, but it’s free for 14 days (just don’t forget to cancel if you don’t plan to continue using the service.) You’ll fill out information including your address, the receiver’s address, and the ways in which the defamation has affected you. An example might be, “Misgendering trans people, especially when coming from groups in power, inflicts psychological harm.”

Once you download the letter it will look something like this:

I tweaked mine a little bit for readability.

Then you just drop it in the mail! In most cases, people will swiftly remove the content to avoid legal recourse. Hopefully this will be the case for me.

Remember, you deserve complete control over what people publish about you, and you never have to put up with misgendering. I hope this article has helped everyone better understand their rights so that if you do come across this unfortunate situation, you will know how to handle it.

Update 3.13: I was finally able to reach Bust after writing this article, and they removed the piece about me. I never had to send the letter!