But no third chances
Thu Jun 14, 2018 12:05

Holland had thought Claudia would demurely defer the offer for answers. Instead, they were pleasantly surprised by her unleashing a barrage of questions. It was as though she had been saving them up for the last eight months. Her preface had been wishy-washy, but Holland was not one to leave questions unanswered. “Now is as good a time and place as any,” the seventh-year said decisively. They took a sip of their iced coffee and set the cup back down on the table, resigned to not getting to eat their wrap for at least a few more minutes.

“I’ll go in order, then?” Might as well, because the first two questions were the easiest ones. Perhaps they would have been difficult for someone who was unpracticed at answering, but Holland had been asked those questions before. “Pronouns are important because they’re one of the ways I portray my identity. If someone refuses to use the correct pronouns for me, it’s invalidating and disrespectful. You wouldn’t like it if someone called you ‘he,’ right? It would probably be uncomfortable if I said, ‘Claudia came up to my table and he sat down and I had a conversation with him.’” Holland often deployed that rhetoric when explaining this concept, and they had never once heard someone answer that they wouldn’t care at all about being misgendered. “If someone persists in calling me ‘she’ or ‘he’ when they’ve been told what my pronouns are, it’s not just wrong, it’s rude. Calling someone what they ask to be called is the baseline of common decency, especially because it comes at no cost to you.”

Moving forward. Hopefully Claudia knew the difference between gender and biological sex at this point, or else Holland would have to walk their explanation back a few steps to explain further. “I don’t know why I’m non-binary. It’s just how I’ve always been. Why do you feel aligned to the gender that matches your biological sex?” Danny hadn’t been able to answer that question when Holland had asked during first year in an attempt to get him to understand. It might work with Claudia.

Her third question was more complicated, but it was interesting. Holland gave it some thought before they answered. “Community cohesion is important to having a functional society,” they allowed, “but it’s only achievable when the members have chosen to be part of that community. If the community’s ideals are forced on them, and unhappy people aren’t free to pursue what would make them happy, then the community ceases to be cohesive. Most people aren’t interested in working toward group goals that aren’t in line with their values and interests. Even when the outcome has some benefits for them,” social and financial benefits were supposed to be a selling point of pureblood society, “those benefits aren’t necessarily enough to keep people from being dissatisfied. Members of a community in which self-determination and personal fulfillment are encouraged—in which they’re free to pursue the things that matter to them—will be happier, and they’ll want to give back to that community and help it succeed.” For Holland, a community had to prove itself as supportive and beneficial. Their allegiance could not be gained by existence and proximity alone. (Except for the Steelers. They would always support the Steelers.) “I place more emphasis on individual freedom because it is essential to community cohesion, not mutually exclusive with it.”

When Holland had sat down to eat lunch outside, they hadn’t been prepared to have a “what are your intentions with my brother” conversation, but that was apparently how their day was going. Some of their college essay questions had been easier to phrase their answers for. Holland took another sip of coffee. They had volunteered to answer Claudia’s questions, but Holland hadn’t expected those questions to include what they valued in their relationship.

“If you’re only considering our backgrounds, I can see how we’re not compatible on paper,” Holland acknowledged. “But our backgrounds aren’t what makes our relationship good. I know Danny and I are compatible because we were friends for a long time before we started dating. We’re both intelligent and like to debate, and we can keep up with each other without it devolving into an argument.” More or less. “We solve problems similarly, and we’re usually on the same page with our principles, even when we disagree about how they should be acted on. We can talk to each other about any topic comfortably, without concern about being judged.” Holland proceeded with caution, unsure of how much detail they wanted to give. “As a couple, I think we help and improve each other in ways that no one else does. He makes me feel safe even when I’m being vulnerable with him, which isn’t easy for me to do with most people. I think—although you’d have to check with him to see if he agrees—he works harder because of me. We communicate, and respect what each other needs in a relationship. So… I can consider myself compatible with Danny because of those things.”

The future question was harder. At this point Holland didn’t know what was likely, or what they would want in the long-term. Their relationship was working for them for now. Dating long-distance next year would be a test, but both Holland and Danny usually tested well. “I think where our relationship could possibly go depends on what happens in the next few years. I know that the way it’s going now, neither of us wants to break up. I understand that we’ll have to fight,” Holland said, sitting up a little straighter now, daring her to challenge them, “but he and I agree that the relationship is worth fighting for. As long as we both think that, that’s what we’re going to do.”

  • Now I feel special - Claudia, Thu Jun 14 06:23
    Holland had allowed Claudia to get through the things that she wanted to say to them, which was ideal because otherwise she might have forgotten parts or become sidetracked by less relevant debates,... more
    • But no third chances - Holland, Thu Jun 14 12:05
      • Duly noted - Claudia, Thu Jun 14 16:11
        If she had realized Holland would start to answer her questions right there and then, Claudia would not have asked them: she was only intending to give them an idea of the things she was pondering,... more
        • I don’t think you’ll need one - Holland, Fri Jun 15 01:45
          Claudia probably didn’t know that she had brought up a point of contention in the trans community. Trans people were often expected to perform hyperfemininity or hypermasculinity to “prove” that they ... more
          • “Not letting society dictate how gender should be expressed and experienced is a good ideal, and it’s worth striving for,” Holland said. Until this year Claudia had not given much, if any, thought to ... more
            • Can I guesstimate them? - Holland, Sat Jun 16 01:10
              “You don’t get to choose the society you’re born into, but you still have choices about how you participate in that society,” Holland said patiently. “If you attend a ball with your family, you can... more
              • How are you at divination? - Claudia, Sat Jun 16 15:47
                Holland breezed over agreeing that you could be born into a society, but Claudia didn’t miss it (in fact she considered that it would be easier to discuss things with them if they just allowed her to ... more
                • I dropped it - Holland, Mon Jun 18 15:17
                  “ Or it’s a quick way to become unpopular and ostracized. ” Holland had nothing reassuring to tell Claudia about that. Yes, that was a possibility, maybe even the most likely outcome, even in this... more
                  • That's why you didn't see this coming - Claudia, Tue Jun 19 15:41
                    Claudia didn’t see how her current community could thrive on equality in the proportions Holland was advocating. She was confident there were many social prejudices that did not apply to her... more
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