Wednesday, April 10, 2019

I am a bird with one foot.

I'm going to fill in some gaps. I'm going to let thin drool escape my lips, enter my keyboard, and type for me. The goal today is twofold: I want to describe how I feel about people changing their gender pronouns, and I want to explain the manner in which I've been typing as of late.

"I feel like I'm floating." Easy enough. That's a statement people readily make. When I started writing here, this blog was a writing prompt. It still is. The pages sit here and ask me to practice. Everything I say here is true as a rule, but I have been filtering the truth through lenses of varying strength and color. I'm practicing doing something that I love; something I would like to expand and be more skillful at doing - creating a space where semi-colons and sentence fragments can roam free. I want to be a better writer, so I am experimenting with different paints. It is pretentious. It is hard to follow. I am a bird with one foot.

Hi Mom. Your kid is ok.

Non-binary! Genderqueer! Language is evolving fast enough that we can watch it happening. Now, in addition to the familiar "he/him" and "she/her" pronouns, "they/them" is coming into the mainstream. Now that I have the choice, my pronouns are "they/them." It's hard to remember and you'll mess it up every time. I'm cool with that. Change takes practice, and goofing up is a part of the process.

Last summer I was working at the bike shop. A new person who I was working with asked me directly what my pronouns were, and I was flustered. "I'm... like... just some dude" were the words which stumbled from my mouth; the words which tumbled to the floor. "He/him" my new friend offered helpfully... "my pronouns are they/them" they said. I proceeded to butcher their pronouns regularly while feeling grateful for opportunities to get it correct. I continue to blunder often, and nobody has cut off my face yet. Younger generations will be seamless.

I changed my pronouns because a new option dropped out of the sky, and it happens to describe how I feel about myself. Simple. This is an accepted and convenient way for me to dissociate from manly bullshit gender expectations. This is shorthand for my rejection of norms assigned to a gender. When I tell somebody that my pronouns are they/them, I am not making a statement about what kind of genitals I have or want. I am pointing to an area on a spectrum, and saying "my heart lies there."

I don't tell anybody what my pronouns are unless it comes up. For some people the pronoun distinction is more important, so if you care about other humans, it is worth the effort to get it right. When somebody refers to me using masculine terms, I do not feel a barb. Some people do, and it happens all of the time. It is uncomfortable to see a friend be misgendered. To do it on purpose is frankly just mean.

I choose they/them pronouns largely in deference to technical accuracy. Other people choose the same pronouns because it is important to them. I feel vastly more feminine than I appear. People who care about me know this, but most folks probably notice the beard. In practice, this has caused me more confusion than discomfort, and my shoulder muscles are strong from my propensity to shrug.

I am a queer person. This is another case where I am choosing technical accuracy over just shutting up. Queer is an umbrella term, and important parts of me stand under that umbrella. I question my decision to call myself queer, because I feel like I am not "queer enough." And there is something to that - especially considering that I have faced no struggle. I am at maximum privilege while my gay and trans friends need to concern themselves always about the possibility of violence. Think about that. Nobody will fuck with me because of the way I look. Therefore, I feel an obligation to speak in defense of the queer people who I love. It matters.

The core tenet of my personal code is that everybody should be free to do whatever they want as long as it isn't hurting other people. Respect other people. Respect everybody's differences, and seek to notice what we all have in common.

No comments: