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I really enjoy playing male characters and I'm currently playing a really fun Tabaxi lad! Unfortunately, a lot of my party members (in character) still refer to my character as she/her often. I have a high pitched voice and can't make it super deep- which is fine, but it makes it hard to pass as "masculine". Because of this entire immersive moments are interrupted by my DM yelling "HE" to correct players, and my DM especially has gotten extremely fed up at this point with my players inability to remember. I've tried to talk in a deeper voice as much as possible and gently correct people but I don't want to keep interrupting session with the corrections, it takes everyone out of the game and we've had entire moments of players dramatically collapsing in frustration for how long this has been going on now.

Are there any good strategies of helping players remember my character's gender that won't take them out of the session?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Please remember that answers should not be based on speculation or suggestion, but rather on expertise. If this is a problem that you've solved or seen solved, please share that wisdom! If you have an untested idea, try it out and then get back to us! \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 May 2 at 17:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ At this table, is the convention more to refer to characters (OK, Mordo the Unbiddable, it's your turn. What do you want to do?), or to refer to players (OK, slug_meat, you're up. What do you want to do/what do you want Mordo to do?)? \$\endgroup\$ – Upper_Case May 2 at 20:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Upper_Case Very often it's based on characters but sometimes we accidentally slip to actual player names which is where some of the trouble comes from, I think! \$\endgroup\$ – slug_meat May 3 at 2:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @slug_meat Be careful lowering your voice IRL. Too much rumble is bad for your vocal cords (which in worse case can cause nodules and polyps that require surgical correction), esp if you're otherwise straining to do it. If you're gonna do voices way different from your own, for long periods of time, read about good vocal hygiene and do warmups before sessions. \$\endgroup\$ – Adonalsium May 3 at 16:53
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Generally this "problem" tends to appear at the start of the game, where all the characters are new. My fix was to always refer to characters by their names, not pronouns. Once characters are well established, this ceases to be a problem.

So, as a GM, instead of saying:

What do you do?

I say:

What does Fred do?

This works for the player as well as the GM, so instead of saying "I do X", go with "Fred is doing X".

This tends to reinforce the character's gender with the additional benefit of getting the name out there.

As an extreme, I did write a card with "Alice is a GIRL!" when someone kept getting it wrong. The silliness of it made short work of the error.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Silly for the win! I've seen similar use of visual props help with that. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 2 at 12:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Yes, it worked really well. It was silly, people felt stupid missing the clue right there in front of them, and everyone was having fun with it. \$\endgroup\$ – Sardathrion May 2 at 12:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LoftyWithers I think that you have enough substance in that comment to build an answer around it. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 2 at 18:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ My party actually had a good laugh about making a big red card with "OUR TABAXI IS A BOY" on it for our table, so we might also try that! I haven't been speaking in character as much recently and I think that's not helping the problem at all, I'll try to do that more and hopefully it helps! Thanks so much for the answer! \$\endgroup\$ – slug_meat May 3 at 2:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for third-person references, though it seems sufficient to do this only on a temporary basis. As an aside, personally, I found voice-changing to be counterproductive for immersion because the silliness of it was distracting. \$\endgroup\$ – Phlucious May 3 at 21:03
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Try describing your actions in third person if that's a possibility. That'll help remind them that your character is a male without breaking immersion. Once in a while I'll try to describe the acts in third person and then act them out.

For example, on the last one we're playing, Chutulu, mid 20s and I play a female PD. Usually I'll just stay my actions normally but once in a while I'll describe my actions in third person, so, instead of:

DM: What do you do?
I casually lean back against the wall and give a menacing glance to the guy
- What, exactly, do you mean by that sir?

I'll change it to:

DM: What do you do?
Veronica casually leans back against the wall and gives a menacing glance to the guy
- What, exactly, do you mean by that sir?

This doesn't break the flow and doesn't really change much but gently reminds other players I'm playing a woman. Then, whenever they forget (and that doesn't happen a lot on my case) I just ignore it and make a mental note to use that style again whenever I can. That will involve telling your DM to also ignore it and start using those clues together. Unless your setting is one where gender actually makes a difference and you're trying to play it out like that (for example on the 20s the fact that my character is a woman should make a difference in how she's treated and so on but we pretend women were treated equally and gloss over the fact they were not), I'd just gloss over the mistakes on gender and keep repeating the name of my character until people gets a hold to it.

It makes a lot of difference if you say it on that style, just putting a name in front reminds everyone who you are supposed to be.

Disclaimer: To be honest, I've played several female characters in the past and I've never encountered that particular problem often enough to be relevant (i.e. other players remembered my character was female after the first session).

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    \$\begingroup\$ That's not a bad approach, but lots characters for settings other than Earth have names that don't have strong gender associations in the real world, and using names with Hebrew / Greek / etc derivations may break immersion in a different way. \$\endgroup\$ – Ross Thompson May 2 at 19:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RossThompson: Even setting aside the use of names, you can describe your character's actions using third-person pronouns: "He casually leans back..." \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 3 at 4:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RossThompson being realistic though, if you're a guy, look like a guy, talk like a guy and plays a character with a gender neutral name, it's going to be though imagining your are a girl. So I'd say, compromise and make sure your name, which is the main thing you can control and modify transmits the gender of your character based on your cultural setting. \$\endgroup\$ – Jorge Córdoba May 3 at 6:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast Yeah, that would probably be a better solution than repeatedly using names. \$\endgroup\$ – Ross Thompson May 3 at 19:09
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One way is to encourage the table to use name cards -- that also helps everyone remember character names (a problem I have in the campaign I'm in now -- I remember my partner's character name, but not those of our cleric or ranger).

If you have a card in front of you with the name "Robert" on it, folks are more likely to remember your character is male. Beyond that, you could also include a portrait, either drawn (if you or someone at the table can draw) or obtained from some other source and printed onto the card.

This avoids the immersion-breaking loss of first person for describing your character's actions, while keeping the information about character gender front and center where everyone at the table can see it. Such cards can also be a GM aid, as they can display things like armor class, passive notice score, and saving throw values.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Matt Coleville's streaming game does that with name cards. I think Critical Role did something similar. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 2 at 12:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I generally try and have all the players in any of my games do this. Sharpie on a tented index card: Name, Gender, maybe a brief (2-3 word) description. After 2-3 sessions it's not super needful, but very helpful at the start. \$\endgroup\$ – aslum May 2 at 15:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ We also put a picture of the character's face on the card, which we've found is a strong visual cue for gender. Only works if the character has a very gendered-looking face or style of dress, of course. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells May 2 at 19:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1, I do this. Coincidentally I just added "gender pronouns" to my standard a month ago. So now it's: Name, race, AC, Search bonus, gender pronouns. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel R. Collins May 2 at 20:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ A picture that represents your character might help as well to give the other players something to imagine that isn't just you. \$\endgroup\$ – Arcanist Lupus May 3 at 4:23
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You say you can't bring you voice down. That's fine, you don't want to strain your voice anyway.

Have you considered wearing a large, bushy (and very obviously fake) beard/goatee to the table? It would probably help people remember your character's gender, since they would see it every time they looked at you, and getting a few laughs in would also help to ease tensions about the whole debacle.

The other answers are all good, too. Upvotes all around. But personally, I try not to pass up the opportunity for a good visual cue.


I was asked for an example of something similar I did myself, so here we go. Now, this wasn't actually D&D, mind you, and not specifically regarding the issue of gender differentiation, but it's along the same lines of reminding the players who this character is without constantly having to remind them of details that are not inherently obvious by looking at me as a player (or GM, in this case):

I was running a game of Wraith: the Oblivion where I had one NPC who was particularly relevant to the plot. He knew a lot about plot-relevant things and had a fair bit of power at his fingertips, but he was also very nerdy and nervous socially - not the sort of character I wanted the players to take too seriously in conversation, otherwise they might advance through the story faster than I wanted them to.

So, I got a pair of cheap plastic glasses from the dollar store (some ridiculous shade of neon green if I recall), broke them in half along the bridge and wrapped it up with masking tape. I popped out the lenses too. Every time the players went to see this character, I would put on the glasses and start wringing my hands and making "nerd noises" while he spoke. The glasses kept slipping off my nose, too, because of the weakened bridge, which led to me constantly pushing them up - which not only completed the character for them, but also helped me stay in character, too.

It worked beautifully to set the atmosphere, it made the players laugh, and it achieved my personal GM goal of making them not take the character too seriously in role-play. It was one of the better NPCs I've ever run, if I may say so myself.

I know we all like to approach these games seriously and with respect to the rules and so on, but we're also here to have fun, and a little comic relief can go a long way to keeping everyone in line and making characters memorable as entities beyond the player who controls them at the table. In situations like this, where you want to remind the other players of a subtle detail that isn't obvious from looking at you (as a player), a good visual cue can go a long way.

If you're worried about the comedic angle derailing the game, consider something else, less funny, but equally cheap to obtain. The fake beard is what I would go with in this situation, but you do you. Just something physical and visual that the others will see and remind them you're playing a male character.

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    \$\begingroup\$ OP is a tabaxi though. \$\endgroup\$ – Captain Man May 2 at 14:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @CaptainMan Tabaxi are cat people, are they not? (Please correct me if I'm mistaken.) They could grow out the hair around their mouth if they wanted to. Even if the player was playing a completely hairless race, though, I would still suggest this as a way of visually reminding players of the character's gender. It's a simple cue for the players that need not be referenced in-character if they don't want to. Sometimes it pays not to take the game too seriously. \$\endgroup\$ – Steve-O May 2 at 15:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1, There are very few problems in life that wearing an obviously fake beard cannot solve. A personal favourite of mine is the 'knitted beard hat' which gets extra points for being comfy, cosy, fashionable and so very obviously fake. \$\endgroup\$ – RyanfaeScotland May 5 at 22:02
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You might be able to solve this in character.

Next time another player character misgenders yours, make it a point to have your character call theirs out. Make a big scene out of it; act annoyed. Have your tabaxi tell them he has no trouble telling human (or elf, dwarf, etc.) males from human females, and he doesn't understand why they have so much trouble telling tabaxi apart. He knew their eyesight was bad, but he didn't think it was that bad. Maybe even have him count out the other characters identifying each's gender. You want the other players to remember the event when they think of your character, so make it a big deal.

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You should support your answer with evidence or experience, and explain how it solves the problem. Have you tried such a solution yourself? How has it worked, in your experience? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 3 at 4:06

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