At least I’ll own it
Thu Mar 9, 2017 20:06

Lucien, who apparently owned the world’s tallest horse and misgendered Holland out of the goodness of his shriveled little heart, was now lecturing them like they were a slow toddler. Holland clenched their fists, manicured nails digging half-moons into their palms. This wasn’t anything new, although this was the first time they’d had confrontation like this at RMI. Holland had started presenting as non-binary when they were seven, and while most kids just hadn’t cared, some of their classmates were less accepting. That had ended with too many trips to both the guidance counselor and the principal, and eventually the Keenes had moved Holland to another elementary school for the last few years so they could start over where people had never used their old pronouns.

But RMI was different. There were openly queer staff members and, with very few exceptions, the students didn’t have problems with queer people. Holland had never used pronouns besides they/them here, so mistakes were usually due to the habit of using binary pronouns. People usually corrected themselves.

You’re obviously a girl.

“I’m not a girl,” they started, because they had to start somewhere, “and calling me one is misgendering, the same way it’d be misgendering if I called you a girl. There isn’t any debate, because I have told you I’m not a girl, and I am literally the most qualified person in the world to discuss my gender identity.”

Their voice was even, with clipped consonants. Like their father, Holland got cold and quiet when they were really mad. Right now, the fifth-year had never been more glad that they hadn’t inherited their mom’s tendency toward angry tears. Crying during arguments made you look silly and irrational, even though crying wasn’t a decision.

At least they were taller than Lucien.

“The singular ‘they’ has been used for centuries and is a totally acceptable pronoun. And language does work that way. Language grows and changes as people invent and use new words and concepts.” The organic reality of speech was more important than abstract grammatical rules. It didn’t matter what the formal rules were, because language depended completely on how it was used. The only languages that didn’t change were those that weren’t colloquially used, which was why they were called dead languages. “You just said ‘cater to,’ but cater means bringing food and you weren’t talking about food. Somewhere down the line, someone decided that ‘cater’ could mean special treatment, and now you use it like that. Because language changes.

“But that doesn’t matter,” Holland continued, face flushed but voice still calm, “because your problem isn’t actually grammar. For the last five years I’ve politely told you which pronouns are correct for me. Using my correct pronouns isn’t giving me special treatment; it’s treating me like everyone else, who you do use the correct pronouns for.” In the past, they’d entertained the idea of misgendering people like Lucien who deliberately misgendered them, but sinking to his level wouldn’t help. And it didn’t have the same impact on a cis person.

Holland took a breath, but they weren’t finished. “It doesn’t hurt you or cost you anything to use ‘they’ and ‘them’ for me. You’re a Prefect, so you’re supposed to set a good example and represent the school’s values, which include diversity and acceptance,” presumably. It was an international school. “If you can’t treat all students respectfully, then you were a terrible choice for the position. You’re bad at your job. And it doesn’t matter what your hangup is because my identity has nothing to do with whether you think it’s wrong or not. The first-years and our professors—who have way more knowledge of ‘the world’ than you do, by the way—they—everyone else in this school at least makes an effort to use my correct pronouns. If you can’t figure out how to adapt to language you’re not used to, then you’re not as smart as you think you are.”

  • You're the one making it awkward - Lucien, Thu Mar 9 01:33
    “No.” Well, that was just disrespectful. His request had been perfectly nice. Having been at the top of Potions and similar classes for quite some time, Lucien was used to people asking him for help, ... more
    • At least I’ll own it - Holland, Thu Mar 9 20:06
      • At least I'm not denying the truth - Lucien, Fri Mar 10 01:15
        Lucien considered himself fairly good at reading people and had not often felt the need to re-evaluate this opinion. For this reason, he was momentarily astounded to realize that Holland hadn’t been... more
        • Oh, good. Now Lucien was doing verbal bullet points. And oh, good, he was done being insulted. Clearly someone couldn’t take being shown he was wrong. On the other hand, Holland knew they were right, ... more
          • I’m only a jerk to other jerks - Lucien, Sat Mar 11 21:02
            He had a lot of thoughts while Holland talked back at him. It started scornfully. Of course she wouldn’t admit to being mentally unstable. That was the whole reason behind why psychologists even... more
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