Ze, zir, zim: An Extended Metaphor

Transgender and genderfluid identities are quite outside my experience, actually, so are most queer identities, since my own questioning phase was more about where can I find handsome boys, which boy should I date, and why can’t I date all of them. Er, moving on. But it’s come to my attention more and more, and a couple people in my life have changed the pronouns they’re comfortable with. I kind of imagine that as awkwardly telling everyone in your life that they’ve been pronouncing your name wrong every single time since forever.

When I lived in Brooklyn, every time I filled in a form with my address, I would get this thrill, that the upstairs apartment, under a skylight, in a Brooklyn brownstone was the truest and best address I could have, for the truest and best life I could have, and I was really happy about it. Whenever I write down Bramford, Chapel Hill as my address, I have to remind myself that it’s only temporary. This stupid not-really-me address isn’t that important, right? And even so, I kind of want to tell everyone that I’m not from here, I barely live here, this is not the true me. (Oddly, the lady at the DMV did not want to hear this.)

That’s kind of how I imagine gender pronouns would be, only times 10,000. Like if every time someone spoke to me, they could either say awesome Brooklyn adventure or they could say sad small Chapel Hill with the stupid driving everywhere. Obviously I would want everyone to say Hello, person who is successful in the expensive, high speed and high talent city! and not Hello, person who inexplicably cares whether red beats light blue in college sportsball. So, when presented with a pronoun that would make a friend or acquaintance happy, of course I will use it. Why wouldn’t you use it? I imagine it would be very difficult to make your way through a world where everyone treated you as one type of person when you are completely not that person.

So when someone I know goes through a transition, or, I guess when someone has been going through a transitional period for a while and just decides to tell me about it, I think how great it is that they’ve figured out they are really Brooklynites and now they don’t have to stumble around North Carolina anymore wondering why everything is so terrible and depressing and awful! Brooklynites don’t have to try to act like they care about the sportsball, or the weather, or what used to be where those expensive lofts are now. They’re not expected to know the back way to whenever they’re going. Not pretending like you care is such a big relief, isn’t it? Good for you, looking out at all the state highways and figuring out you’re really a G train commuter! That can’t be easy.

There’s also this thing where anti-social justice types (I discovered that a social justice blogger is a thing you can call someone, which is weird because I mostly talk about games I’m playing or take photos of my makeup, but whatever, I guess I’d rather be in favor of social justice than against it) will mock others with a fake social bio, saying something like “I’m a genderqueer panromatic demisexual, who prefers ey/em pronouns” and I think the goal is to highlight how far these identities are from the expected norm. I’m not entirely sure. Anyway, it always makes me think Good for you! Glad you figured that out! You don’t have to fake it anymore! And of course I want that feeling to mean that I’m open-minded and accepting, but it might also mean that if you hate faking an interest in local smalltalk, then we should be friends.

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