Anyway, good Monday to you all. Today, I want to talk with you about gender reassignment.
A few months ago I found out that a dear friend of mine is transitioning from female to male. His decision to do this, gave voice to a character who's been lingering in the back of my head for a year now. And thus, I gave you the beginning of Eli's story.
My friend R has hit a big milestone in the process: asking for friends and coworkers to accept the new change, drop the old female name and refer to him by the appropriate gender. This is major. He has had to "come out" to co-workers who may not have known the difference before...so, this is a big deal.
I was thinking about R and thought, "Damn, I'm so proud of her."
And this is where I come to the point that pronouns suck.
See, I totally support R in this. I love him so damn much and am so proud that he has the courage to pursue this for himself rather than go on living a half-life. I've read his blog entries detailing what it's been like...being in one body but feeling other...and parts of it were heartwrenching to read. Seeing how happy he is in the light of self-acceptance, of the love of family and friends understanding his path... that is glorious. I'm fucking proud of him.
Intellectually, though...in my memories...R is still a her with a nice rack and a leather corset. In my head, R is a she. Her. Not because I don't support the actions being taken, but because that's just how I know "her". Now, part of this could be because *she* moved away and the only interaction I've had with *him* has been online. (Hint: COME VISIT!) But, really, I think it's because of stupid things like pronouns.
He. She. Her. Him. We. Us. Them. You.
They all create dividing lines. These are words without grey areas. Definite articles with no wiggle room. How often do you hear, "It's us against them"? There is a clear line between those two factions. How often do you hear people say, "This country is going to hell because of people like you"? These words allow people to make blanket statements or definite points.
An example that's in the news these days: Chaz Bono. I hear lots of things from people who may not know I'm listening. I've heard this bullshit idea that Sonny and Cher must have fucked up royally not just as parents but as humans for God to punish them with a transgender kid. (What the fuck? I'm not even going to glorify that with a response.) What I hear most: people who flat our refuse to refer to Chaz as "him". They insist that Chaz is "Chastity" and use "her"/"she" in conversation. When asked why, they justify it (weakly) by saying something like, "Well, that's how I always knew her and think of her, so I'm not going to change."
What you're actually saying is that you don't respect this person. Period. You don't want to get out of your comfort zone and address someone who is transgender? That's your beef right there. That's for you to reconcile. But the bottom line is that you don't respect Chaz enough to see *him* as the person *he* is.
Our world isn't divided into blacks and whites, but subtle shades of grey. We don't have many words for the grey areas. Right now, those that do are sadly used as derogatory slang or misunderstood. I've heard of people who consider themselves gender neutral (something I find completely fascinating) who prefer the pronoun "zhe". It is none of the above. Some people see this kind of thing as part of an alternative subculture, some sort of unseemly minority. But, none of us fits the letter of every word we use to describe ourselves, do we?
You know what? I take it back. We don't live in a grey world. We live in a world full of vibrant colors. Each one just as dazzling as the next. No one fits into any mold, no matter how much we think we do.
Pronouns are boring. Pronouns pigeonhole us into drab outlines, uncomfortable molds. And in cases like this, they can be horribly confusing or abusive.
Because, if I slip up and call R "her"...one might think I'm not supportive. One might think I have an issue, that I'm being belligerent or ignoring *his* interests and feelings on the matter. And that couldn't be farther from the truth.
Love you, R. All of you. Not for what chromosomes you were given or for what pink parts you were born with, but for the person you are. The laughter, the human connection. The pronoun you pick doesn't matter. You are fucking stellar. Shine on, love.