Learning to communicate beyond the binary
Despite their alluring simplicity, binaries are more representative of conditional neural patterning than true human nature; we frequently create and fortify predictably forking outlines upon which we can comfortably assign cultural norms and associated moral standards.
Often we manufacture these internal frameworks with determined intentionality, because at the core of this carefully composed framework, is us – or the person we desire to present externally.
And true to our taxonomic assignment as mammals – beings capable of feeling and thinking, and with awareness of the self – one's identity is embedded and represented as a part of this construct.
And identity is a complex thing.
One year ago, one among my family conveyed their realized gender reality, informing those closest to them they no longer felt comfortable aligning to female or male gender expectations, neither in appearance nor expression.
As someone who respects them deeply and wholly, I wanted to support them through this transitional period. And maybe it wasn't transitional, or a physical gradation of some form, but instead a state of clarity, or honesty, or love. Maybe it was love. And maybe it was each of these, or none. I sought to demonstrate my dedication to all of the above.
But it was not without falter on my part. There have been numerous conversations among family members in which one or the other has verbally explored their preference in the matter. In the resulting emotional tumult of these discussions, I have found clarity in my own expression of identity, as well as learned challenging, sometimes painful lessons on the perception and reception of others.
The identity or sexuality of another is not for me to define. Please, once more: The identity or sexuality of another is not for me to define.
In conversations regarding them, I often find myself feeling mentally pinned in my focus on pronoun usage, nearly perceptibly forcing my neural pathways to recompose the once-simple female/male distinction into a more accepting multifaceted collection of possibilities. But it is not without failure.
And in those moments, I feel embarrassed and intently aware of my discomfort. It's okay to be embarrassed and uncomfortable in these moments. Sometimes the difficulty in something is the proof of its importance.
I trip over my tongue at times, and especially when my outward expressions are driven by excitement or zeal. Somehow in these supremely expressive moments, my mind still struggles to properly position my verbal references to them. I realize a part of this mental misstep is the impression of the past, or more aptly, the need to move beyond the comfort of the past to respect the form they deem most right for their person.
So I will continue trying, and tripping, and correcting myself, because I love them. I love them, and who they are.
I want them to be who they are.