There’s always something left to learn.
For instance, did you know that the Earth was on the other side of the galaxy when most of the dinosaurs roamed the earth? It takes the earth (and thus the rest of our solar system) about 250 million years to orbit the center of the Milky Way. The first dinosaurs appeared about 250 million years ago, so for most of their reign, the Earth was in a wholly different neighborhood, so to speak.
Maybe you knew this already, but I just learned it by reading the Interesting Facts newsletter that shows up in my inbox I-Know-Not-How.
I also learned something by reading about the pop singer Demi Lovato. She considers her gender to be fluid, so she uses as her pronouns they/them and she/her. I understand fluidity. However, I’m still pondering the story of another young person quoted in the article, who considered themself both transgender and non-binary. It seemed contradictory to me. What is one transitioning from if one is non-binary? Why transition at all, in that case? How does one know if one wants to transition, if one is non-binary?
The way one young person explained it to me is that he doesn’t like having an, er, scrotum, or being so hairy that he has to shave, he doesn’t really like his male body, so he wants to transition to female. He doesn’t really sexually gravitate more to one gender than another. He is trans, fluid, and non-binary. Right now, he uses “he” but also “her,” and doesn’t object to “they.”
While I’m uneasy about the implied binariness of transitioning, most likely because I can’t put myself in their/his/her place, I absolutely understand that it is vital to some people’s sense of well-being. It is simply not my business how they choose to remake or label themselves. We are all on the quest of life, and it’s best to honor others’ pathways.
And I appreciate that younger generations are experimenting with gender constructs. I have known people—way back in the dinosaur age—who were, I am pretty sure, asexual, and it saddens me that they didn’t have a satisfactory way to talk about how they felt. Or a visible community to belong to. I can remember vividly a conversation with an older woman about her own sexuality; how she had never married or even dated except when some relative set her up, and she didn’t enjoy that in the least. She haltingly tried to explain that she had just never met anyone she cared that much about to couple with. She was self-deprecatory about her personal life, though she was a vital part of the project we both worked. Today, we would say she is “ace”—asexual, and she would find her cohort. Of course, I also remember people being in the closet and the fear they felt over losing family, jobs, friends—that much is still an issue, though becoming less so all the time, as younger generations are more accepting of others’ sexualities. How to make people happier is to accept and honor them.
I may be a little dizzy from all the experimentation, but I trust that we will come out into a clearing after a while with a greater understanding of human possibility. And when we do, I hope we are in the realm of true selves coming through. Meanwhile, pardon me if I put a foot wrong in this brave new world.
Which brings me to Kansas—talk about defying expectations! I love that the Kansas group who led the campaign to defeat the removal of abortion protections in their constitution tailored their message to the people they spoke to as they went door to door. To older people, they emphasized the interference of government in their personal healthcare decisions; to younger people, the abrogation of their rights and possible curtailment of their futures; to people out in rural Western Kansas (and, trust me, it is more rural than almost anyone else anywhere else can possibly imagine) they literally put a cowboy/cowgirl hat on their material and used the slogan “Vote Neigh!” They were superb marketers. Usually I’m skeptical about clever marketing, but, in this case, they achieved something none of us thought was possible—an end run around an extremely conservative legislature bent on forced birth in the most draconian way possible.
So they won the week, as Joy Reid would say. And possibly showed a new way to all of us. Most certainly, they gave us hope in this difficult time, with the news full of horrible stories about pregnant women.
And, that, is, maybe, the best lesson of all. There’s hope in the worst of times. There’s a way out of the most terrible dilemmas.
Now, where are my ruby slippers?