Two things that came across my consciousness this week that made me go, “Hmmmm.”
#1 Gaby Dunn on Gender Reveal
The most recent episode of the podcast Gender Reveal featured the writer, podcaster, and comedian, and famously bisexual person Gaby Dunn. I’d heard of her but hadn’t really consumed any of her creative or media endeavors. Amidst her interview with host Molly Woodstock was an anecdote that really resonated with me. Gaby described attending an event while dressed in a suit. She noted that the group of women she was with were all wearing dresses, having lots of lively conversations about their outfits, posing, and being photographed. Gaby felt left out and like she didn’t belong.
Yes. YES. YES!
Though Gaby identifies as a cis woman and I identify as a genderqueer non-binary woman, her experience felt so familiar. I’m kind of socially awkward to start with (socially nervous and insecure, really), throw in being the only person in a group who doesn’t fit a cis and socially acceptable image of presentation or interests and things get lonely pretty fast. I love dressing true to my identity and feeling left out is not much fun, but I know I will always choose my “masculine” presentation over trying to fit into an image that makes my core self feel alienated.
I do want to give a massive shout out of gratitude to my family who, regularly and most recently at a family wedding, are quite understanding and were vocally excited about my wedding outfit that featured seersucker pants with light blue pinstripes, a white button-up shirt, Hufflepuff necktie, and a blue/turquoise waistcoat.
Thanks to Gaby for being a funny and vocal advocate for bisexuality, gender non-conforming women, and gender-whatever people! Also, I love that she identified a gap in the money management podcast community (So. Many. White. Straight. Men. and Women.)
and filled it with her show Bad with Money with Gaby Dunn (and upcoming book Bad with Money: The Imperfect Art of Getting Your Financial Sh*t Together).
#2 “Call Them What They Wants” by John McWhorter
Related to my Who is They? post from earlier this week, John McWhorter, host of the Lexicon Valley podcast and contributing author at The Atlantic, posted an article mirroring his podcast about they, “Call Them What They Wants.” It’s a pretty quick read, darn interesting, and I love his take on things both as a linguist and as a Gen-X aged person.
Of late I have been in situations where I tried to use they in this new way and stumbled all over my linguistic shoelaces. But I picked myself up and brushed myself off, and I’ll be starting all over again. Over the past 10 years, as conceptions of gender have evolved in Anglophone societies, resistance has faded gradually to the old-new they, as in “Tell each student that they can.” I hope the new-new they will not require decades, or even centuries, of the same kind of bilious battle. If English had not changed in exactly these kinds of ways forever, we’d all be speaking the language of Beowulf. Some might wish it so, but count me out. Pronouns change, just as we do. We celebrate language change that has already happened as pageant, procession, progress. Why not celebrate it while it’s happening?
Three hearty cheers for celebrating language changes while they’re happening – we are part of history here, people! Many more hearty cheers for people recognizing (in themselves and supporting others) expanded notions of gender to include non-binary people – let’s celebrate that; it’s a major happening!