Then you came to the right place
Sun Mar 5, 2017 17:07

Both always was a good way of putting it. Holland had practice explaining what non-binary meant. Once they got to RMI, they had realized it was a good idea to have an elevator speech about their gender prepared, because people asked and then weren’t ready to start from the beginning of a conversation about the difference between biological sex and gender identity. By now the fifth-year had it down to about a minute. Minute and a half, tops, if they took the time to explain what intersex was and the fact that they weren’t intersex.

The term non-binary was overall just a good way of putting it. Thanks to Dad, Holland knew what the binary system was in computers, and they liked how the description applied to their gender. Data could be expressed as 0’s and 1’s, and if the state of the data wasn’t established, then it was zero-and-one. Both, always. They didn’t have to be male or female; they were quantum.

Marley was shockingly enthusiastic, which was not a normal reaction but one that Holland appreciated nonetheless. The younger Lyra also seemed to grasp the concept immediately, so Holland didn’t even bother with the elevator speech. Younger people were less indoctrinated into heteronormativity than adults and older teens, so it was easier to explain things to them. Kids tended to think Holland was some sort of fairy prince-and-or-princess because of their colorful hair and lack of an obvious gender. Old men tended to be uncomfortable with them for the same reasons, but kids were more interested in the hair. They rarely asked questions about Holland’s gender once pronouns were clarified.

Speaking of pronouns… “You’re not rubbing it in my face, it’s fine. I mostly just have to spend a lot of time correcting people on my pronouns,” Holland explained. “I use they/them. So if you were telling someone about this conversation, you’d say, ‘I saw Holland and they wished me a happy birthday when I was swimming with them in the rec center. They were wearing a new swimsuit their parents gave them for Christmas.’ Like that.”

Over the years, Holland had found that giving examples was the easiest way to get people to understand their pronouns. The conjugation was what normally tripped people up. The correct verbs were Holland is with their name but they are with the pronoun, and some people overthought it and tried to say they is, which was both grammatically incorrect and overcomplicated. Holland tried to emphasize it wasn’t complicated if you just tried to speak normally, but apparently not everyone could wrap their heads around the concept. “It’s pretty simple but some people have trouble with it. And then some people are just rude and deliberately misgender me—misgendering is what it’s called when you use the wrong pronouns and stuff on purpose.”

They were thinking of a few students in particular who did this. Holland had not yet given up correcting them, although Lucien didn’t seem likely to change his tune any time soon. Holland had considered the idea of misgendering him to see how he liked it, but they didn’t want to stoop to his level, and it was always possible it wouldn’t bother him and would just backfire. Steven Rhines, on the other hand, seemed to switch between the binary pronouns depending on what Holland was wearing that day, which was awkward but at least wasn’t deliberate. “So that’s annoying, but most people at RMI are pretty respectful.” Including Marley. This was a nice conversation.

  • Oh, good! I like firm opinions! - Marley , Sat Mar 4 19:55
    She beamed brightly at the birthday wishes. “Thanks! I already ate, like, so much cake today. But none with candles, yet. It doesn’t make sense to blow out candles on your own.” That was the downside ... more
    • Then you came to the right place - Holland, Sun Mar 5 17:07
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