Penny's Story

A cute little drummer living her dream.

People Disagreeing with Me Helps Me to Grow

So, I had a fairly unpleasant exchange in the comments section of my last post. I sort of expected it, given the stuff I was talking about, and I reiterate that that’s exactly why I don’t write about this stuff very often.

I made a mistake in my post, and used the wrong pronoun to describe someone, and even used a link to their blog to do it. It was completely unintentional, but having had the wrong pronoun attached to me in the past often enough that it hurt my head, I understand that the visceral reaction is much the same whether it’s intentional or not. And so our conversation got off on the totally wrong foot. I apologized, but the damage was done, and our conversation had an edge of defensiveness on both sides that often leads to even further mistakes and misunderstandings.

Even more than my mistake, though, they called me out on things I said about the gender binary. And I’ve decided that they were more right than wrong. I’m not sure my thinking has changed all that much, though it has changed some, but how I worded things in my original post was very sloppy. And, as I said above, I reacted with defensiveness in the exchange of comments, which never has me thinking at my clearest.

So, let me try this again…

I fit into the gender binary, at least in my appearance – in my daily existence. People assume that I’m in a certain place of the gender binary, and they’re right. What I mean, more fully, is that the gender binary, as a concept, doesn’t actively attack my person-hood. That’s fine. But then I also made some flippant comments about it working for me and it not going anywhere and me being fine with that. I was wrong to do that, and I feel bad for my comments.

It’s true that we can’t always agree with everyone, but I do try to never say stuff that’s hurtful for no real reason. I failed at that. I’m sure the commenter and I disagree about some things, but I’d wager we agree on far more than we disagree on. And I feel bad that a careless comment and some unrefined thinking lead to us focusing on our disagreements.

To clarify some of my statements, and say some things that have changed about my thinking. I won’t defend the concept of a binary when it comes to gender. I do think it’ll be a longer row to hoe to convince people that gender is a completely fluid spectrum than it will be to explain that the two poles have lots of gray area in the middle. And I also thinks it’s possible that I just said exactly the same thing with two different sets of words. I certainly believe in lots of gray area, and I love the gray area, I just am not very gray and so I’m not as passionate about the gray area as I might be. It’s surprising; I used to think of myself as very much in the gray area, and it’s taken some adjustment to realize that I’m so much in a place that is seen as so mainstream. It’s almost weird, and I do not see it as a good or bad thing, just a thing. I’m not gender variant, or transgender, I’m a woman with no modifiers. I sometimes describe myself as boring. I was never trying to be the person that I am, I just finally discovered who I’ve been all along.

It seems to me that I tend to focus on the issues that either currently or in the past impact me most personally. So my two pet issues, as I’ve said before, are ending “corrective” surgery on intersex babies and children, and insurance coverage for sex reassignment surgery. It doesn’t mean that I don’t support other things, it’s that nothing else pushes my buttons as much as those two issues and those are the ones that really energize me to change the world. And yet, ironically, I find that most of my work is done on basic trans 101 education with folks who’ve never even considered the possibility. I guess I’m taking the baby steps to nudge the world in the direction I hope it goes.

Because the gender binary doesn’t actively assault me personally, I’m not super-engaged in defeating it but I’m not threatened by the conceptual binary going away. I just don’t think I’ve seen an explanation or strategy that seems to work with broadening straight cis folks’ minds. Telling them they’ve been wrong all this time about something that seems so basic to their own sense of identity just seems to make them defensive. I’m always trying to find a solution that works for everyone. Maybe there isn’t one to this, but I hope there is. I want something we can all feel good about. I’m very willing to admit that I don’t have the answer to what that is. The one thing I’ll say categorically is that no one else’s identity threatens mine.

Finally, I want to just say that I really appreciate when people disagree with me, even when the conversation is unpleasant. One of the best ways for me to grow is to have alternative points of views presented to me.

Thanks to everyone who helps me grow.   🙂

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3 Comments»

  DDA wrote @

You wrote, “Telling them they’ve been wrong all this time about something that seems so basic to their own sense of identity just seems to make them defensive.”

Does this surprise you? As strongly as you feel about your gender, why would you think others wouldn’t feel the same way?

In general, telling people they are wrong about something and demanding they adopt your belief instead isn’t a good way to “broaden” their minds.

  pickypenelope wrote @

Of course it doesn’t surprise me. I’m speaking to people whom I’ve seen bang their heads against the proverbial wall without success and just pointing out one reason. “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” and all that.

However, there’s a difference between “telling people they’re wrong” and insisting that an institution change.

  Anonymous T Girl wrote @

You have a real life.

That puts you leaps and bounds ahead of most people online, whose whole existence is wrapped up in this artificial reality.

i don’t have any answers either. It’s so refreshing to know someone who admits it also.


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