an awkward conversation about pronouns

Failure to Be Kind

I’m mad at my brain.

I have to change pronouns for a friend of mine. I have to, I need to, and I want to change pronouns for my friend. He, I mean she, is a kind and creative soul. See? Those tiny letters are hard to shift. Let me keep trying. He, no, she is funny.

Suddenly, I can’t even type.

She has been depressed for a very long time, as long as I have known him, I mean her. Her. Her. Her. I have to say ‘ her,’ but ‘her doesn’t come out of my mouth. She, her. I visualize her and the pronoun that happens is ‘he.’ But I can’t do that any more. My brain needs to undergo a transformation. It is necessary.

I always thought … I always thought that she … right, she, had an issue with … her identity, that… she… was in the closet. He was a big guy with broad shoulders and a five-o’clock shadow even right after he shaved, but he had an air about him that I thought I understood. It was clear, I thought, but unstated. Is that offensive to say that?

Wait! Let me start over:

She was a big… person with broad shoulders and a five-o’clock shadow even right after she shaved, but she had an air about her that I had thought I understood.

It’s a word minefield. Does her past change too? It has to, right?

I’m being offensive again, right?

I am.

We all, yes, we is the right word … we, her friends and acquaintances, accepted who she was and stayed quiet but silently cheered him… dammit …cheered her on, silently, of course because… she deserved it… She is kind. She is helpful. She is the nicest and the most creative among us. We thought we understood.

Then one day last week, she finally told us her truth, quietly, but with a resolute look in his… FUCK! …in her eyes. We had guessed wrong. We all nodded, asked… uh… her how she felt. One of my more enlightened friends led the way with compassionate questions and long quiet moments so… wait… so she could answer. It was great.

Then, I leaned over to another friend sitting in the folding chair next to me and said, “This is important. We need to support him.”

Air sucked out of the room. I’d said it out loud. Him. Fuck. I’m such an ass. I am.

Pronouns used to be so boring.

Thank you for listening, jules