The other day I was in the local Lowe's, being helped by someone who clearly seemed to have begun as male, but whose name was female, and who had put flowers in their hair. As someone who cares about such things, I wanted very much to be respectful, but honestly and truly did not know what to use. This is where we run into challenges. I concentrated on this person's considerable competence, which I then reported to manager. As I had memorized their name, that made it easy. However, as a Boomer, much of this is not only new, but it can be extremely confusing, even to the most well-meaning. If a person presents a visually confusing ( to them anyway) appearance, then we are left to guess, be wrong, and unintentionally insult. I wrote about this elsewhere, with all sincerity. Where I think we lose something in translation is to state, as you do, that pronouns are important, with which I heartily agree. On the other hand, Ellie, in an increasingly complex world of changing sexual identities, it's not always so simple unless that person wears a Use These Pronouns name badge. I'm not mocking you. I am trying my damnedest to be respectful, make sense, be inclusive, when sometimes my very best intentions to use the right pronouns end up insulting someone. You may know your identity. However if that isn't clear to me, no matter what I do it's likely to be wrong.

When I travel overseas and do my best to learn a few words in a complex language, my clumsy attempts will often elicit hilarity. That's forgiven for I am making a concerted effort.

Here, if I make a concerted effort, I am bitch-slapped if I misstep. I think that there is a mutual responsibility here to meet in the middle. We may not necessarily choose our sexuality, but we can indeed choose to be understanding and gracious and patient in a world where far too many's knee jerk response is to demean and attack. I am quite willing to make the effort. But if I am repeatedly laid low by the responses, I will stop making the effort. We need allies, not enemies. We make allies by allowing people to simply not know, but want to know. That way allows grace on all sides.

Horizon Huntress, prize-winning author, adventure traveler, boundary-pusher, wilder, veteran, aging vibrantly. I own my sh*t. Let’s play!

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