i have another thing to write about, but i’m wimping out, so here’s a thing.
the first time i corrected someone on pronoun usage in real life - and i don’t mean to diminish the connections and relationships i have online; this is just as real. i mean to include physical presence, speech, body language, the effort (or lack) i put into gender presentation. the first time i corrected someone under these conditions was at the unveiling of a new semi-public art piece.
i don’t want to get too into it, but also i don’t want to brush over it. suffice to say, the piece was installed on the walls. basically a redesign of the space, which happened to be the foyer of a theatre. as such, it worked with pattern, with the relationships between people and space, between audience and stage. but that’s beside the point.
i met people who looked familiar, but i couldn’t tell where from. eventually we got talking. they were students too, a year above me.
one of them got me a beer - not quite bought, considering it was free, but there was mention of a limit to the free drinks, and if the rumour was true, i was already over that limit. i didn’t want to be turned away, that just would have been awkward. so she ordered for me, and when the bartender asked what kind of beer i’d like, she looked at me. “heineken,” i answered, put on the spot. “… and heineken for him” she said after ordering her own.
"her," i said. I don’t know how loud. I thought it was loud enough, but i tend to get ignored and/or talked over a lot anyway, so perhaps not. she turned and looked at me, grinning, before turning away again.
"her," i said again, louder and slightly more determined. "huh?"
"it’s her," once more, still loud, but more uncertain this time.
she took it in her stride. “oh, sorry, my bad!”
"it’s okay, really. this is the first time i’ve actually been able to do it.” i don’t know why i told her, i had known her five minutes, but also i had three glasses of wine already.
this, too, she took in her stride. “oh, wow! i feel - kinda bad - but also sort of special. i’m glad i was part of this!”
this made me happy, for some odd reason. i felt she recognised the significance that others haven’t for similar things - people often treat it as a novelty, something they can take interest in far outside of their own lives. to her it seemed something she was actually part of, not for the novelty or fetishism, but as a genuine interaction and a genuine important moment in a human being’s life.
i spent the rest of the night with her and her friends. we spent nearly an hour trying to find another exhibition, ended up at someone’s shop then their studio, got invited to an opening, gave up and went to the beach. got pulled over on the way home for having too many people in the car. i sat on the side of the road for twenty minutes next to a girl pretending to be drunk to avoid a fine.
all night she kept using the right pronouns. referred to me as girl and lady. slipped up occasionally, as people do, but always realised and corrected herself.
i have friends who use the right pronouns for me, and i appreciate them a lot. but for someone who i’d just met to start with an assumption, get the assumption corrected (and react with “hah, elam, eh? you look gorgeous”) and continually make a real effort? it felt good. especially compared to recent letdowns with other people out there in the parts of the world i can’t control.