Tiger King star Saff, who was misgendered throughout the series, hopes his fame will raise awareness of the importance of pronouns
Tiger King hero Saff has said that the failure to use his correct pronouns sent a “loud statement” to the LGBT+ community.
The kind-hearted park manager, who lost his arm in a tiger mauling, had his gender widely misreported following the release of the hit Netflix series, which saw others refer to him with the pronouns she/her.
Saff has explained previously that he uses male pronouns in his everyday life, adding: “I’ve always gone by ‘him’ since I could say that out loud.”
The former zoo keeper takes a diplomatic approach on the issue, though, and says he is “easygoing”.
Saff says using the right pronouns is something you shouldn’t dismiss.
But in an interview with Reuters, the Tiger King star made clear that it’s important to use people’s correct pronouns.
He said: “I don’t think they intended to be cruel in any way, but dismissive or not, it still made a very, very loud statement about the way they feel about the [LGBT+] community.
“Personally it doesn’t bother me… [but] these titles and these pronouns, they matter just as much as calling someone by the wrong name. It’s something that you shouldn’t dismiss.”
Saff, who has three children aged one to 11, added: “My children call me dad, they do not call me mum.
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“I can’t remember a time when I knew [anything] different… I just think it was obvious, what I wanted, the way I wanted to live and my family immediately supported that.”
The former tiger keeper, who now lives in California and no longer works with animals, said he has been able to spend more time with his kids during the lockdown.
Tiger King reunion episode corrected the record.
Although he was misgendered in the series, Tiger King did make things right with Saff by correcting the record in after-show episode “The Tiger King and I”.
In it, host Joel McHale clarified that Saff is a man and gave him space to discuss the issue.
Saff said: “I don’t think it bothered me as much as it bothered everyone else. It didn’t really pay it any mind.”
The follow-up episode also saw Saff admit that he “trusts” the tiger who bit his arm off more than Joe Exotic.
The special also saw libertarian activist Josh Diall explain how he was drawn to work for Joe Exotic because he was one of the only out gay figures in Oklahoma — a key bit of backstory elided from the original show.