Duly noted
Thu Jun 14, 2018 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, not to have an attempt at resolution so instantaneously. They sipped their coffee and Claudia wished she’d thought of ordering a beverage so she would have something to do with her hands and her gaze while Holland brazenly began offering unsugared responses. She tried to listen, despite feeling chronically uncomfortable when Holland talked about person concerns. In hindsight, Claudia should have known better than to ask, even as an overview.

When Holland used incorrect pronouns for her, Claudia smiled in a way that suggested she understood their point, but there were still too many holes for her to accept it. “It’s a little uncomfortable,” she conceded, “but it doesn’t matter because I know I’m not a ‘he’. I imagine it could be frustrating to have it happen all the time.” She hadn’t really thought about it being rude to use the incorrect pronouns for Holland, because Claudia had always used ‘they’; that’s how they had been introduced to her. Using she or he would feel inaccurate, and it was always jarring when Connor misgendered Holland, but she hadn’t thought about it being rude to not comply with this simple request. She had supposed that making a stand on their pronouns was Holland’s way of forcing some control over other people’s reactions to them, rather than being a channel of expressing identity, like their clothes or their hair. It raised more questions for Claudia than it answered, but there was not much time for discussion as Holland moved onto the second point.

She felt that Holland missed the mark with her alignment question: she supposed what she really wondered was why Holland couldn’t just identify as one gender or the other; why did they need to be something that was neither, and go to the trouble of adopting non-traditional pronouns and being frequently misgendered? It sounded like making unnecessarily hard work for oneself, like when Marley had decided to date Teal when she was attracted to boys, or, more relevantly, Danny deciding to date Holland when he was attracted to girls. What was the point?

“Why do you feel aligned to the gender that matches your biological sex?” Holland asked. ‘Because I’m normal,’ Claudia thought. She wasn’t an expert in genetics or neur- ... neuro- … the study of brains, but it was just common sense that homosexuals and transgender people were evolutionarily flawed. Humans had been given the tools for procreation, but in some cases the instructions for using them had become confused. Claudia knew a person couldn’t help being born that way, but asking why she felt like a girl when she was, by all definitions, a girl, was the sort of question a normal person would not need to ask because they would intrinsically understand the truth. “I mean,” she tried to clarify for Holland, “you could be a -,” she paused for a moment, because actually she didn’t know Holland’s biological sex, “a binary gender that doesn’t conform to gender stereotypes,” she said. “I suppose it seems to me like you are letting society dictate what a gender is, or should be, and otherwise you don’t seem like other people’s opinions matter to you a great deal. So I find that perplexing.”

By the time Holland had made it a couple of sentences into answering her third question, Claudia was starting to enjoy herself, to her great surprise. With the exception of their flawed argument after midterm, Claudia had not debated anything with anyone since she had been friends with Marley. This exchange of opinions, trying to understand another viewpoint, had been challenging and interesting. Claudia had known that she missed it, but it wasn’t until now she realized how much she enjoyed it. Connor, Nolan and Caleb were good company, but they agreed on most things they discussed - even where Caleb’s background differed, his principles seemed fairly closely aligned with the others, or so Claudia had thus far deduced.

Infuriatingly, she found some truth in Holland’s assessment of a community. They had overlooked that sometimes a community couldn’t be chosen, that frequently one was born into a society, and a community that had raised her would be respected and revered for those actions alone. Yet she couldn’t deny that their evaluation of a non-functioning society wherein discontent members felt disinclined to contribute was a frighteningly accurate description of her current experience at Rocky Mountain. It did not serve her needs, and she had no loyalty towards it. In fact she was considering not returning in September and had begun to consider alternatives. “I agree a person could leave a community that was not beneficial for them,” she allowed, “but I disagree that it cannot function without being a choice.” All her other arguments for a cohesive, self-preserving society were redundant in the face of her current circumstances at school, and Danny’s inevitable exclusion if he continued along this current path (although this was due to selfish interest, which is what had prompted Claudia to raise her question in the first instance).

They answered her question about compatibility to a satisfactory degree. They admitted that the circumstances were against them (which, to Claudia, was the entire problem) but when considered out of context, their relationship sounded … ideal. Holland was not a pureblood debutante, but they weren’t a simpering moron, either. They liked Danny, and respected him, and Claudia ignored the lump that annoyingly formed in her throat when Holland claimed Danny made them feel safe even when they were vulnerable. Danny made Claudia feel that way, too… until she had been responsible for making Holland feel vulnerable. Her brother’s allegiances could not have been clearer.

“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, and Claudia felt vindicated. They were breaking all the rules; they shouldn’t be granted an easy ride. It came back to the idea of the individual versus the community again: just doing what they wanted to do would disrupt society, possibly for generations. Claudia knew that Dardanius was expecting there to be future generations, because she’d elected to listen to his conversation with their parents, when they’d given him leave to continue seeing Holland.

“Danny is always the Dubois heir first,” she said, not trying to put Holland off (she had realised by now that was not possible), but introducing her next point in context. “He has told our parents he will fulfill his duties as Heir.” She looked directly at Holland now, to be sure they were understanding her. “I heard him say that not all parent couples comprise a man and a woman.” She exhaled, because she was admitting defeat, and she loathed to lose. “I overheard him talking with Elinor, too.” Claudia sighed again; it would have been so pleasant to have Elinor for a sister-in-law. “When Danny was with Marissa, and Elinor suggested the proposal, he said he would think about it. She gave him a year.” Again Claudia didn’t break eye contact with Holland. “He’d only been with you for a few weeks when he told her no.” She hadn’t meant to tell Holland any of this. She didn’t even know why she was telling them when it was information counter-productive to her goal of separating them from her brother. “So you should be prepared to keep fighting for a long time.”

  • But no third chances - Holland, Thu Jun 14 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... more
    • Duly noted - Claudia, Thu Jun 14 16:11
      • 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
Click here to receive daily updates