No more sir and ma'am

Recently the most significant conversation on my mind is and attempt to investigate what gender as a concept is. Like many, I have been riveted by the current platform and discussions going on in pop culture about transgender people and how our country is beginning to embrace them. At the same time, in supporting transgender teens in my everyday life I hear the stories of bias, prejudice, hatred, violence, and suicide of those that have been cast away, especially those that are transgender.

I remain curious, as I have always been, about why we do not support our friends, family, and loved ones to be whomever they may desire to be. If it is not hurting another, why would we mind if someone identifies as lesbian, Jewish, gay, Muslim, bisexual, African American, transgender? For me, that question has been as baffling as if we all of a sudden decided as a society that we believed that anyone who wears a certain shade of purple is less than. It seems arbitrary and yet when looking at the greater societal culture of White, Christian, upper class folks being the most coveted and the most privileged it is clear that there are still clearly the haves and the have nots.

In supporting several teens recently to transition from male to female and from female to male, I have become acutely aware of the ways our society is attached to gender. Adolescents that fight for the right to wear what makes them feel comfortable, speak in ways that make them comfortable, associate at community organizations that welcome them are minimized, brutalized, and cast aside. We are all part of this.

Going forward, I have decided to revamp some forms of communication that I use. 1. I will not use the terms sir and ma'am anymore because in between those two extremes are a whole vast array of people that consider themselves neither one. 2. I will not ask an expecting mother whether she is have a boy or a girl. 3. I will not take for granted that gender specific bathrooms, locker rooms, units, camps, or schools make any sense whatsoever. 4. Instead of asking on the forms I create to check the "male" or "female" box, I will draw a line and ask kids to write in the gender they identify as. And lastly as people ask me the gender of the baby that I am currently expecting, I will simply say the genitals are that of a male but I don't know what this baby is going to end up preferring.

Either way, my husband and I will love our children, regardless of how they identify and grow. My hope is that one day, we as a society may do the same for all of our people.