I follow a young person on instagram who identifies as non-binary. Young is a relative term as this person is around fourty but that was some time ago for me. So…. young. Anyways, this individual has chosen to be referred to as they or them. Not he/she or him/her. I must admit when I first heard of this some years ago it was while I was listening to a radio talk show. It was very informative, and I was glad I stumbled across the show. However, it was some years before I was actually exposed to someone from the LGBTQ2S+ community with preferred chosen pronouns. Trust me, it is very difficult to use the terms and I often make the mistake of saying he or him when discussing this person. My daughter gently corrects me every time and I am grateful. I do not wish to be an insensitive asshole and I do not want to hurt others even unintentionally. Even if they aren’t there to hear it.
The world has changed so much since I was born in 1961. I guess I led a sheltered life. My first exposure to divorce was when I was ten and my friend said her Dad was moving out. I actually went home and asked my Mom about it. I remember saying Kari’s Mom and Dad were getting divorced and he was moving out. Then I asked “Can they do that?” Mom said it was a thing. Now as I look back I realize I knew lots of children who lived with one parent but I guess I never questioned why. The same happened when I first understood about being gay or lesbian. That was when I realized my friend from grade one was gay. From grade one to grade four he was just a boy I played with. As I age I understand more and more the pain and fear and secrecy that some people have gone through for most of their lives. Perhaps understand is the wrong word. I am more aware of what they went through because these people are showing incredible strength and courage to share their stories.
During the covid reign of segregation I went to pick up a pizza at a local pub. As a non covid vaxxed individual I had to wait outside while the girl brought out the debit machine and then returned a few minutes later with my Pizza. I started chatting with an older guy named Ben. He was having a cigarette and we of course started to discuss the pro’s and cons of vaccination. He was indigenous and told me he identified as two spirited. Although I had heard the term, I really didn’t understand it and so I was a little shy about asking him to educate me. Well. Isn’t it true that it is best to ask if you don’t know. He gave me a brief overview and later I was of course drawn to researching the term and its origins. Turns out the concept of two spirit is generations old and the term is basically used to replace one that was foisted upon the indigenous by original European colonists. A term which in time was considered very derogatory. And two spirit isn’t just one thing. I can’t explain it well because it isn’t about sex. Or gender. Or any one thing. It is so much deeper than that. And it isn’t shameful or wrong. It is just a form of being. He was a pretty cool guy, Ben. I am thankful for his guidance.
When I listen to the news or see an instagram post regarding pretty much anything under the LGBTQ2S+ umbrella, I instantly recall so many programming terms from University. Binary. Two. Yes or No. People writing and discussing the posts are just that. Pro. Or con. On the other hand, I think about the term “If, then. else”. It is a coding term which checks for conditions. In my experience, people generally use the simplest form of this argument. Let me give you an example. People who argue against everything that is not simple male/female think in the simplest of terms. IF penis THEN boy ELSE girl. One condition… Two options or outcomes. As a programmer from my very distant past, I understand that we can embed conditional statements into other conditional statements. Basically a zillion other arguments come into play. But really, life isn’t about programming. Nor is it on or off (binary). My thoughts move in this direction because it makes me think about how rigid people are in their mindsets. When I read these types of judgmental idea’s I immediately place the writer into a category of ill-informed, rigid, lacking in compassion and mean. Yep. I am judgmental too.
Here is the thing. I have a vagina. Ovaries. Uterus. I am a girl. I guess a woman now. Basically, I am a female. Do I think otherwise? No. I just am. I accept that I am female and I accept the labels society choses for me. They are words which are all made up for the sake of communication. Words are continually being made up and added to our dictionaries. I’m good with all of it. Now there are those who are born with the same parts that I have. They aren’t good with the labels. And not just the labels. They don’t feel like a woman. They don’t think they are women. They want to be a man. Or they don’t. They love other women. Or not. The amount of permutations and combinations is astronomical. At some point in their lives, they felt something was amiss. They began to search for their own identity. Often is silence with feelings of shame. Because if you don’t fit in you need to try and fit in. Or society will judge the shit out of you.
So what has this got to do with me? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! AND THAT IS THE POINT! I fit into the norm of society when it comes to my sexual identity. I don’t fit in so many other ways but that is neither here nor there. I don’t have to fight the world for acceptance. Because I accept the labels. I conform so to speak. But I willingly chose one of the two options society gives me. Boy or girl. She or he. Just words. However, my job as a human being is to accept the choices of others. But beyond that, I need to empower those who seek acceptance. I don’t need to have an opinion. It isn’t my life. I don’t need to place conditions on this acceptance. Sure, change your physical sexual orientation, BUT… not until you are this-many-years old. Use whatever pronouns you want BUT… don’t make me say it. Ummmm Yeah. Those are conditions. I will accept you if…. (insert bullshit preconceived notion here).
I know I am putting all of this badly and I will never be able to explain fully anything about this topic because I don’t really understand most of it. But I am trying. There is a very simple answer as far as I can see though. Unconditional acceptance. UN Conditional. Also known as “Mind your biz”. Why would we ever want to stand in the way of another person’s happiness. If someone is living in pain whether physically or mentally, shouldn’t we want them to find their way to happiness and contentment? And if you find you can’t support anything outside the norm, just stay quiet. You don’t need to speak up about something that really isn’t affecting your life. One day you may find out it really does affect your life. Someone you know and love may find the courage to reveal their own secrets. Unfortunately, they won’t forget any of your negative comments. You may still love them, but will they still love you? So, all I can say is give it a go. Try and understand. Try and accept others. Try and respect their wishes. Try and have their back. As we age, we can choose to be stuck in our ways or embrace change. I have learned through my own life that change is inevitable and fighting it hurts me. If nothing else, just try and be kind. That’s not hard. Is it?