Time is on our side
It’s bad out there. We’re going backwards, and it feels like this is just the beginning of a big, regressive slide. While we’re at the mercy of time on things like judicial appointments, here’s one way I think it’s actually on our side.
Not too long ago I had a conversation about gender identity with someone my parents’ age. A young person in their family had announced that they would be using the pronouns they/them, and they were taken aback that someone so young could pronounce something so complex and significant.
In the moment, I was surprised by this usually likeminded person’s concern about their young relative’s decision, but as I considered the ways in which the world they grew up in was different than mine and the decades over which a gender binary had been reinforced, I thought about how some of this language is still new to me, someone 30 years their junior.
I thought about how even when someone you love asks you to believe them, it can take some time for your brain to incorporate new information that flies in the face of the way you’ve made decisions for your whole life. I’m not naive or hopeful enough to think that everyone just needs a little time to come around to things that are uncomfortable or threatening, but I do think it’s ok to plant a seed and try watering it a few times before you give up.
And maybe nothing grows there, but in butting up against an old mindset, you’ll realize the progress that’s been made in the time between their coming of age and yours. One day, you’ll be the older person in this situation, and your child or niece or nephew will be trying to explain to you what’s happening in the world.
They’ll have seen more non-binary characters in books and tv shows. They’ll have shared classrooms and offices with more and more peers who were comfortable enough to say that the predominant options weren’t right for them. They’ll say, it’s not a big deal, anymore, Dad. Can we please talk about something that actually matters?