I remember this happening, really vividly, and I remember really trying not to listen in on the conversation because I just didn’t want to hear it if they started saying shitty or ignorant things, but once a stranger starts openly discussing your identity it’s really hard to tune out.
We were both sitting there, and we were both silently trying to decide what to do if this person started saying awful, transphobic, shitty stuff, because that’s the tone of about 75% of idle conversations around non-binary genders. Should we politely interrupt? Should we ask them not to say insulting things? Should we just sit there quietly, letting their words cut us up?
And then, magically, it just resolved. They didn’t get everything right, but that’s ok. They did really well.
Privilege is holding a socially undisputed, valid identity – one that people don’t debate the ‘realness’ of. It was really nice to hear someone learn about my gender and not decide to have ‘an opinion’ on it, but to just accept it. It was really nice.
I guess the other part of this is: if you’re in public space and you find yourself discussing identities, orientations, genders… identities that you don’t personally hold, remember that we share that space with you, and you might be talking about someone just a few metres away. It’s not an abstract discussion for us, so be kind. We’re rooting for you.