If I were a piece of equipment, my ‘boundaries’ would be sort of like my operating limits. If you go beyond my tolerances, I behave in unexpected/challenging ways. I don’t need you to follow these guidelines, but over a year of observation, they have predicted my behavior with astonishing accuracy.

Any of the following behaviours will lead to me avoiding you in future1:

(1) touching my body without my explicit verbal consent;
(2) obstructing me from leaving the situation;
(3) moving my stuff without telling me what you moved and where it is now;
(4) using gendered language when speaking about me in the third person;

Insistence in any of the following modes of speech2 will lead to a collapse in civilised verbal communication:

(5) blaming your (or anyone else’s) thoughts, feelings or actions on me;
(6) speaking on behalf of society or any individual or group who hasn’t/haven’t asked you to speak to me on their behalf;
(7) Arguing, disagreeing3 or attempting to coerce/persuade me;
(8) Making oneself an authority on any aspect of my identity or lived experience.4

Unexpected/challenging behaviour can be reliably avoided with a sincere, formal agreement not to do/say any of the above. Agreeing doesn’t mean you will not make mistakes, but establishes breaches of agreement as your error to correct, and not mine.

See also

  1. you may not notice anything - I just won’t be there 

  2. how to communicate effectively without these is an article for another time, but in the meantime you can always ask me “how can I express x without doing y?”. 

  3. i.e. making a statement that contradicts what I said. “I disagree” is ironically not disagreement. 

  4. e.g. telling me what I am or what my experience is 

Forgive, and you will see this differently.