I think I know what has been bothering me so much about all of this lately.
You see, the grammar of the whole ‘Let’s use “they” to reference a single person,’ idea has really, really bothered me. To be clear, English has a gender neutral, singular pronoun. That pronoun is “it”. No one needs to make up something else, but, oh, wait – someone already did. Years ago, people in the actual communities involved in addressing firsthand situations where male or female identification, for whatever reason, did not work, had already begun using a new word, “zi” (though it might be spelled differently – I have forgotten, and mostly only knew it as a spoken word). Why do I know this? Because I interacted with people who were dealing with this firsthand. I’ve been involved with such people for most of my life. Being respectful of people’s identities is not new to me. Commanding people on how to speak, however, is new to me. (And a touch too Newspeak for me, really…)
Growing up, people simply shared when they wanted to be referenced as something other than as the standard male or female. Sometimes, that meant the person was in transition from one gender to another. Sometimes, it meant the person experienced residence in both genders or neither gender. But that person, or someone sharing about the person, would communicate that clearly to any party, whenever that information was needed. It was usually a really wonderful conversation to have, sharing or learning such information from or about someone.
Now, however, things are not only different, but they feel absurd.
No longer are people merely communicating openly about when they have a request to be referenced differently from the standard. Instead, a very loud part of the population is demanding that, in order not to hurt the feelings of those people, everyone must give up gender identity – we must stop referring to anyone or anything as he/she.
(Because we have to be more careful with the minorities than with the majorities? Are they not strong, wonderful, powerful people? I’ve always experienced them to be so. And I grew up in a world of minorities.)
I do not support this approach. For one thing, I have worked very, very hard to be the woman I am today, to have the relationship I have with my own womanhood. I am not a non-gender. (I am also not plural, but let’s leave the grammar aside for the moment.) I am not gender-neutral. I am a woman. Period. Please, refer to me as such. And yes, it is 100% obvious that I am a woman. But, if someone accidentally called me a “Sir” or a “he” – oh, by the way, that happened plenty when I lived in Japan -, I would not be offended. It would be a mistake or a misunderstanding. It would not be a denial of my womanhood, in exchange for non-womanhood.
The biggest part of this all for me, though, is how it feels like everyone seems to be stepping on eggshells not to upset a very small percentage of the population, simply because another small percentage of the population has been and continues to be horrible to that minority.
It has been the same feeling for me regarding the race equality issues that have been so vocalized this past year+. I grew up in a very diverse county and city, and I have lived in multiple cultures. I’ve been the absolute minority in a culture, even considered to be less-than-human. None of that has mattered much to me, nor has it been under much consideration throughout my life. We are people first. And I grew up honoring and respecting and loving people for who they are. And, before they are homosexual, Asian, trans-gender, or allergic to nuts, they are people. And I honor and love them simply for that. Everything else just adds to the opportunities to love.
And yet, from these loud social voices, I have felt a barrage of demands for me to stop being racist, etc. Yes, there are people who act unkindly to people based on race. Let’s help those people work on that – let’s educate those people on the wonders of humanity and the different races within it. Why is everyone attacking right now? Fighting fire with fire never works, anyway, let alone when the real fire is nowhere near where the fighting is happening.
There are also people who are horrible toward children. There are people who are horrible towards different religions. There are people who are horrible to others, period. There are people who are horrible toward themselves.
I think, rather than attacking the world at large, demanding and commanding them to be anti-something, it would prove most valuable to teach people how to love, how to see value in things they have not come to know yet, how to get to know what they likely fear (the fear being why they have treated it horribly thus far).
The most powerful thing in this world is love. So, why does it feel like the vast majority of these loud voices are not using it? They are missing out on an amazing opportunity by pushing aside love.