Why does it matter? Are they just the latest flash-in-the-pan trend that everyone is going to forget about in the next six months?
I’ve spent my life studying culture and behaviour, how they intersect, and their effects and consequences. Outside of the actual words like “He/She/They”, our society’s growth in recognizing multiple genders as a part of existence is a move that shows we understand we are more than we seem. And, we can be more than we think we are.
It’s a big and difficult step for so many of us to recognize that gender is not only about clothing or mannerisms, but also integral and complicated to humanity. Taking a moment to pause and reflect on your language leads to a big step in recognizing another’s humanity.
The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked for many of us the recognition that a comfortable work environment gives us the freedom to be productive. For a person who’s lived experience is questioned every day by the language of others, those interactions can be demeaning. If a person is put into a situation where they are consistently demeaned, essentially, they are being set up for failure.
Imagine it like this: our personality and our sense of self is a crystal statue. Now imagine the language that others use about us are pebbles. The effect won’t be obvious or immediate, but over time those pebbles chip at the crystal, fracture it, and crack it…until one day there’s just a pile of shattered crystal that may never be able to be put back together fully.
It only takes a moment to be conscientious. To think about what you are saying. It’s okay to make a mistake as long as you immediately recognize and address it. I have friends in the corporate world who have told me about their journeys to understanding their genders. I can’t imagine the disappointment of looking into the mirror every day, expecting to see one face, but seeing someone else. And, what would it be like on a daily basis to wear clothes that don’t match the way I feel about my gender, in essence, pretending to be someone else day in, day out.
The truth is, most of us will never understand the suffering people face, but we can make the conscious choice to recognize it and give them the space they need to thrive. Simply stop, take a second to think about what you’re going to say and then say it – he, she, or they.
Is that so hard?