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Misgendering refers to using gendered/nongendered pronouns (he, she, they, xe, e, etc.) to refer to someone who would prefer you to use other pronouns, e.g., referring to a woman using the masculine pronoun "he". Misgendering transgender people might be done accidentally, or may be done deliberately to assert a rejection of their gender identity.

When done deliberately, transgender people ordinarily consider this deeply disrespectful and insulting. I'm wondering if this would be classified as backbiting which is forbidden in Qur'an 49:12 "...And do not spy or backbite each other..." (and Qur'an 104), or if it would be classified as something else, like slandering, or something I haven't thought of.

Question: Is deliberately misgendering a transgender person a form of backbiting?

There's this hadith:

... Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: Backbiting implies your talking about your brother in a manner which he does not like. It was said to him: What is your opinion about this that if I actually find (that failing) in my brother which I made a mention of? He said: If (that failing) is actually found (in him) what you assert, you in fact backbited him, and if that is not in him it is a slander. -- Sahih Muslim 2589 (sunnah.com)

But I'm not sure how to apply it. The part "...in a manner which he does not like" certainly applies, but the second part "If (that failing) is actually found..." doesn't seem to apply here.


Here's a circumstance where an appropriate answer to this question would be required:

  1. Someone deliberately misgenders someone I know. I have transgender friends, and not everyone's familiar with transgender-related matters, so this is plausible.

  2. I explain to them that it's backbiting, which is forbidden, with the intention of forbidding what is evil (Qur'an 3:104).

However, since it's impermissible to talk without knowledge (Qur'an 17:36), nor may I declare something haram which is halal (Qur'an 10:59), I better be 100% certain that it is actually backbiting before saying it's backbiting.

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    I think you're reading quite a bit too much into that hadith. It's not a blanket card for defining as backbiting anything, however outlandish the idea, that a person might find offensive. – G. Bach Mar 18 '17 at 16:15
  • ASFIK backbiting is a sin only when the person is a believer (any Abrahamic religion) if the person isn't of them then he's not entitled to the right of not being backbited, but your question is too broad your coupling a transgender issue with backbiting – Honey Mar 19 '17 at 17:51
  • <comments deleted> Please limit comments to those intended to improve or clarify the actual post; they are not intended for tangential discussion or chatting. – goldPseudo Mar 21 '17 at 21:18
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I really believe that your question is not islamic, maybe I'm wrong, but you have to prove me that transgender is not a sin regarded from an islamic point of view.

Some hadiths refers to man behaving very badly by behaving like women, and women dressing like men.

Allah curses men who imitate women and women who imitate men. ( Bukhari)

https://theheartopener.wordpress.com/books/sins/33-women-imitating-men-and-vice-versa/

The only permitted situation is for hermaphrodic people (Khunthaa Mushkil) who are born with both female and male organs, due to a X and Y chromosomes wrong mixing (eg: person with XXY). The real ambiguity (not XX and not XY) is really really scarce. In a country like France, there are only about 500 cases in the whole country, for instance. (Source: wikipedia "hermaphrodisme")

Transgender has been condemned by many islamic scholars; except for real hermaphroditism, I (forgive my ignorance) don't know of islamic shcolars who said that behaving in another way that your birth organs show is okay.

If I'm right, and the only gender in Islam is the gender given by Allah, there is not "misgendering", and you have to reformulate your question.

  • I survey fatawa in this answer, which includes multiple fatawa for and against transgenderism. – Rebecca J. Stones May 13 '17 at 14:27
  • Your answer implies that it’s legal to backbite a sinner. Pleas post the reference for that. – Shadi Jan 9 '18 at 22:32
  • @Shadi . It is probably a sin to backbite a sinner, and therefore you cannot call the person by the pronoun they choose, or it would be exposing their sin of changing Allah's creation. – The Z Mar 11 '18 at 2:40
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In Islam you mustn't disrespect people but you also mustn't comfort one into their sin (that is a sin). Feeling like the opposite of their gender is something, and actually going out of one's way to permanently change their body and identity is a sin. If you were born a man, you have to remain a man and it's also a sin for men to mimic women and vice versa. As for non-binary people, Muslims simply don't believe in them: God said Himself that He created humans either male or female (you can know the actual sex of an intersex person with an analysis of their chromosomes). I'm not a scholar but I think the wisest decision for a Muslim is to "misgender" trans people so they don't encourage them in their sin and avoid sinning themselves.

And Allah knows best.

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