The Atlantic Misses an Opportunity to Bring a Nuanced Discussion of Gender to the Mainstream

After the Atlantic published a cover story by Jesse Singal Monday entitled “When Children Say They’re Trans,” I received an email from Caroline Kitchener, an associate editor at the magazine. It read, in part:

I’m looking for parents of trans or gender non-binary kids to respond to our latest cover story. Much of the piece reads almost like a letter to this group—of which I know you’re a part—and we’d like to start a thoughtful, productive conversation around it. I read your great essay in the Detroit Free Press, and am wondering if you might want to participate: What does Jesse get right in the piece, and what does he get wrong? What could be the potential implications of a piece like this? Continue reading

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Non-binary: Let Me Tell You What It Means

freep opinion

Thank you, Detroit Free Press, for publishing my opinion piece online today (and in the print edition Sunday, 6/3): I am the parent of a non-binary child. And thank you to editor Jewel Gopwani for recognizing the importance of this issue and asking me to modify the original blog post for a wider audience. Let’s keep the conversation going.

Tell Me Something Good: Friends

Indigo Girls, Bonnie Raitt and Joni Mitchell on the radio, and suddenly I am catapulted to the early nineties and my friend Steve’s backyard in. More specifically swinging in a hammock with music bursting from speakers he’s placed in the open windows.

pexels-photo-696218.jpegWe practically live down the street from each other, but I never see him. How do we lose track of people and keep them at the same time? I text him and tell him what I’ve been hearing today, that it must be a sign that we’re due to meet for a drink soon. We’ll go to the same place – Cork Wine Pub in Pleasant Ridge – and sit at the bar and have a couple of glasses of wine and some snacks. We’ll catch up and say we should get together some time soon, but we won’t.

And then something will remind me of him, and we’ll be in touch again. Let’s be honest. I’m the one who stays in touch.  Continue reading

Response: “They” is Too Confusing

Yesterday I received a comment on my post, On Parenting and Pronouns, that I want to share, reflect on and, ultimately, argue against.

Here’s the comment:

There has to be a better way. Using they is too confusing. You are not communicating. My solution: don’t use pronouns at all. To the waitress: I’ll take a coffee, but my partner won’t. Is Scooby upstairs? Tell Scooby dinner is in 10 minutes. Yeah it is awkward, but not more awkward than “they” and is miraculously clear.

Maybe English will develop a gender neutral pronoun. Until then, find a way to make a gender neutral person comfortable AND communicate without confusion to that person and all others. I spent my career in corporate communications and when this came up successfully eliminated hurtful pronouns and wrote text that communicated. No, a crowd is not coming downstairs for dinner.

Here’s my response: Continue reading

Tell Me Something Good

Once or twice a month, my friends Kim and Shari and I send each other quick, unedited essays. We intended to do this every week, but we’re not that consistent. Calling them essays is rather ambitious; they’re more like snippets or observations. We share a Dropbox folder labeled “Tell Me Something Good,” and fill it with these brief missives – a page or less, first drafts, first thoughts, reflections on something that made us smile or feel grateful or breathe a sigh of relief. Continue reading

What Can I Do for You?

We like to ask, “What can I do for you?”

Frequently the answer is, “Nothing… but thanks for asking.”

How can this be? If I am sick or lonely or sad, and you ask what I need, shouldn’t I speak up?

A hug.

A gallon of milk.

A basket of laundry, clean and folded.

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We answer, “Nothing, thank you,” because we don’t know what we need, or what we need is too much, or we can’t imagine how we would ask for the thing we need.

You didn’t even ask what I need, but I’m going to tell you anyway. I need something big. Continue reading

On Parenting and Pronouns

If you spend any time with me at all, I will talk about my children. I will tell you about Josh’s latest cooking adventures, about Sammy’s internship and about Miriam’s plans to move to California.

And I will correct your pronouns.

My oldest is non-binary – neither male nor female – despite appearances, name and everything you think you know about them.

gender-neutral-pronouns

We have learned to refer to them with the pronouns they, them and their, which, I will admit, makes for some awkward sentences, but the underlying issue is one of identity. As a parent and ally, I can learn to live with (and eventually even let go of) this discomfort. For my child, being mis-gendered (or mistaken for the wrong gender) is a daily occurrence, and it hurts.

Continue reading