Alien Nation

As the sun sets on this year’s Pride Month there are a few things I’d like to share. All my points this week are inspired by the power of children and my growing realisation that the next generation carry my hope for humanity. As the debate continues to rage on trans rights, a conversation with my 12 year old son hammered home that the inclusion challenges and stigmatising are an ‘adult’ construct. Interjecting into a conversation about the trans agenda he simply and innocently stated “I don’t see what the problem is?” When I probed to better understand how he had formed his view he commented that there were quite a few people in his year that identified as non-binary and that he and his classmates had acknowledged those choices and had adopted those individual’s preferences.

We should be ashamed that we live in a society where some people only feel seen and recognised for who they are when they buy a coffee at Starbucks. The fact that a group of 12 year old kids fresh out of primary school can accept those choices is a positive societal step in the right direction – yet I know others will vehemently disagree.

Starbucks – #EveryNameIsAStory campaign

The question I found myself asking was how do we explain things in a way that enables everyone to empathise? What was different about the way these children have been taught that enables them to think, act and behave more inclusively? Clearly, education plays a pivotal roles and it made me reflect that at work I often challenge myself to explain things in a way a child would understand. This brings me to the second part of my post this week. In participating in Virtual Pride at work I had the opportunity to listen to the brilliant Rachel Williams from the Proud Trust. They shared the story Alien Nation, which simply explains how things came to be as they are and how together we can build a better world…

So I urge any of you who are wondering how do I broach the topic of trans rights at work or at home? How do I confidently face into the storm and help my colleagues, friends or family to understand the importance of their actions and why this matters so much? I highly recommend reading Alien Nation. At the same time I say to those people who have concerns or reservations about trans inclusion let’s sit down and talk rationally, openly and without judgement or negativity. I believe it is possible to arrive at solutions that respond to concerns on both sides and lead to positive outcomes for everyone. Things do not have to be as they always were. There is another way that treats everyone with the fairness, dignity and respect they deserve. To achieve that we need to discuss this matter sensitively and with mutual respect and not head down divisive or polarising channels.

I’ll finish off today by discussing use of pronouns. Here is a link to a helpful article on the subject. I use mine in my email signature and they appear after my name in Zoom calls. I confess I have not got to the point yet where I will ask someone what pronouns they use – but I do endeavour to use the right pronouns when someone shares them with me. My son found it tough at first but is persevering with his classmates and is finding it increasingly natural and easy.

It might take some getting used to, but it causes you no harm and using the right pronouns for someone will make them feel acknowledged and valid.

Neil McDonald, Stonewall

and surely we all want to live in a world where we feel acknowledged and valid? #ImNotTired

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