Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Tailor your message...

A few weeks ago I posted a status about someone making the mistake that calling me a skinny bitch would be an insult. I'm going to share the whole story now because it fits with a few other things that happened recently.

It all started in the parking lot at Target. I was sitting in my car with my blinker on waiting for another car to move and for the people walking in front of me to clear before pulling in to a parking space. This jerk whips around the car and the people to take the space. Seriously? Ugh. So rude.

So I end up parking a few spaces back, not a big deal. The rudeness bugs me more than anything else. And it sets up my feelings about this guy right at the start.

So they get out of the car. Pajamas. Four thirty on a Wednesday afternoon and they are wearing pajamas. To Target. This isn't Wal-Mart go home and put some damn clothes on. And they are both (guy and girl) significantly over weight. So the inside my head voice also makes a comment about how maybe they should be parking just a little further away from the door, might do them some good.

But this is all on me. I know it. I'm mad at them for being rude so I am being a jerk about what they are wearing and how they look, it's normal, but not nice. I know this. So I keep it in my head. We are all jerks sometimes no matter how much we want to not judge and....what the fuck did you just say?

See as we are all walking in one of the clerks that works there is in our group and these two louts in their pajamas start talking rudely about her. Because she's transgender. They were talking loudly enough that I could hear them and I was behind her, so I know she heard them. And she can't say anything. She works there, she can't be rude to customers. So I walk up to her and tap her on the shoulder.

"Those are really cute shoes."

She smiled and said "Thanks it's so nice when people are nice and not assholes."

And I said, maybe a touch louder than necessary, "Yeah, it's a shame when people feel the need to be assholes."

We went inside she went off to the break room, I went over to get a cart and these two lovely human beings stop and look at me. I give them a little side eye.

He says, "I see you giving us dirty looks like you think you are better than we are, you skinny bitch."

So I open my eyes wide and give him the BIG smile, "Skinny? Really? You think I'm skinny? Thanks!" and walk away.

Rude people don't deserve any more interaction than that. Though I could have said a lot more. This young lady has never been anything but nice to us. She's worked there for a few years. And she's always a sure bet to notice when I am wearing a cute outfit, or just got my hair cut, or actually did my makeup before I came to the store. So I love her even though I don't know her at all. Because she's nice. Those people? I don't know them either, but they are rude and nasty so they get no love from me. They aren't worth the time.

Fast forward to this week. There is a young transgender girl who just got a reality show on TLC and is a spokesperson for Clean and Clear. She's been an activist for most of her life. She has a very supportive family and wants to help other teens who are going through what she has by showing them that it can be okay. There are people out there that will be supportive. And kind. I had never heard of her before and spent some time reading about her story. Really interesting.

And of course because I cannot help myself I read comments. And the number of people out there that were concerned with a 14 year old's genitals was more than a little disturbing. I get that the entire transgender experience is hard to wrap your brain around because it's not your experience. But most things in life won't be your experience so you won't be able to understand them. I will never fully grasp a lot of things because I didn't live them, doesn't mean they aren't real. And the number of people that would make a huge point of referring to her as him, or worse, it, was astounding.

Why can't you use the gender pronoun she prefers? What skin is it off your nose to be polite? Because that's really all it is. It's like meeting someone named Charles and calling them Charlie, if they correct you and tell you it's Charles then use Charles. If you then insist on using Charlie you are an asshole. It's their name. Let them choose it. So I made a status about it.

Most likely it won't change any minds. But the people on my Facebook feed deserve my interaction on this one. Use the gender pronouns the person wants you to use. Their genitals are none of your business. Don't be an asshole.

And then we come to the latest...

Talking to my mother yesterday. She's 82. She's conservative. She's religious. And we have a member of our extended family who is transgender. And this is just now becoming known. I figured it out while they were transitioning. I saw pictures and posts and thought, hmm...I think this is what is happening here and then when the big shift with name and gender pronouns happened it was just a moment of Yep. I thought so.

But this is my mother I am talking to so what now? I know she doesn't approve. This is so far out of her approval matrix she can't even see it from where she stands. I can't really lecture her, she's my mother, but I cannot act as though I agree that it's a problem. So I go subtle. I use the name our family member has chosen. I use she and not he. I subtly correct my mother every time she uses he. And then I say, "She's not hurting anyone. I don't understand why people get so worked up. Even if it is rebellion isn't it a better rebellion than using drugs and stealing from people? She wants to be a girl? Okay. She wants to wear dresses? Cool. As long as nobody is expecting the same from me, I'm fine."

She stops and says, "Well I'm just not sure."

And that's the best I could ask for right then. I'm just not sure. I probably didn't change her mind but she's my mother and she deserves all of my interaction on this subject.

You might have to tailor your message when you talk to people but you have to talk. I ranted for years and years about marriage rights. I told people it wasn't special rights it was equal rights. I shared personal stories. I talked and talked and talked. And I know I changed a few minds. Maybe not a lot, but some. But it was important to me so I kept talking. And other people kept talking. And now we are seeing a shift in laws and more importantly perceptions.

This seems like it's going to be another one of those things. I'm not transgender. I have no idea what that would be like. But I have no reason to think that my being an asshole to someone is going to make their life better. You want to be referred to as he now? Okay. You want to be called she? Okay. None of this is a big deal. Not a single bit of it.

Now to be perfectly honest I am really curious about their stories. When did you know? What did it feel like growing up? Are you doing okay now? What could have made it easier? What do you wish people knew? Pretty much the same sort of questions I ask everyone about their lives. I'm nosy. I have questions. I want to know your story. I love stories. Luckily for me I have friends who are used to me asking inappropriate things and they tell me when I've overstepped so I can step back. I also have a friend who is nosy like me who does a whole series on the LGBT community and tells their stories so I get to be nosy by proxy. (Happy Hour with Cameron Stiehl if you want to check it out)

But the bottom line is, this isn't your choice. This is theirs. It's their life. It's none of your business. You don't have to understand. You don't even have to approve. Just don't be an asshole and life keeps on ticking along just fine.

Also, since Google has psychic powers as I was writing this blog this story came in to my search. If you are like me and curious about people's stories take the 15 minutes and watch. But maybe have a tissue nearby...I got a little weepy.

No comments:

Post a Comment