I link to this instead of adding my pronouns
Friendships cannot form when we walk on egg shells
The older I get, the more I value friendships. It’s not that ideas don’t matter; it just seems that who is “right” and “wrong” isn't as important as it once was. I like the Parable of the Good Samaritan. It is a contrast between making a good argument and being a good neighbor. And sometimes you have to choose.
The kind, gentle, accepting way of a transgender friend of mine convinced me that being a good neighbor was the better choice. She even accepted my invitation to join a group of my friends from church so they could just hear her story. No arguments. No trying to change anyone’s mind. Just a story. We have two ears and one mouth, perhaps that we might listen twice as much as we speak.
That turned into a “rumor.” The rumor, among the young people in our church, was that “uncle John” (me) was someone they could talk to if they were struggling with gender issues - or just had questions. I have had two such conversations over lunches after church. In one I asked how she felt about “transition.” She said she did not feel the need to take that step. She felt there were enough people today with open minds and hearts that she does not feel alone or isolated. That, I told her, was the most encouraging thing she could have said to me. It told me our church family was being exactly who we are supposed to be for her.
Another is a bit distant from our church because she does not want to be a source of controversy. Here I challenged her: Love and support goes both ways. She needs the love and support of her church family, and she deserves every bit of it. But we need her love and support, too. We need her to risk being hurt because only when we take responsibility for what hurts another can we learn and grow. But we’ll never grow to be who we should be to people struggling with gender if we are not allowed to make mistakes.
A tremendous amount of damage is being done by focusing on pronouns. It has the effect of causing people to walk on egg shells. Genuine, deep friendships simply cannot develop in this kind of environment.
This brings me to pronouns. I have told both, and will say here, that a tremendous amount of damage is being done by focusing on pronouns. It has the effect of causing people to walk on egg shells. Genuine, deep friendships simply cannot develop in this kind of environment. We owe people struggling with gender our love and support. But we need theirs, too. And the best possible way for them to love and support us is to leave the pronoun controversies to others and make room for our mistakes. My older transgender friend will not interrupt a conversation with a correction if I misspeak. She might later point out my mistake, but to interrupt the conversation is to drain it of the value it might otherwise bring to the friendship.
Let me leave with this: There are two possible starting points to any discussion about these things. One starting point is what we believe about human sexuality in the abstract; the other is a very real, lived human experience. Whether one’s beliefs about human sexuality are right or wrong, there are human experiences that do not fit neatly into those beliefs. It is then we need to choose our starting point.
The older I get, the more I value friendships. That is why I choose to start the conversation by listening to those whose stories don’t fit. After all, there is a reason I have two ears, but only one mouth.
i love pronouns
i am going to use pronouns even more to cause more damage to the world