Life is so easy when you don’t have to make room for the experiences of other people. Theory of mind and the rhetoric of empathy can seduce us into thinking we fully understand what’s going on in each other’s heads. As a parent, I’ve seen the millions of ways—incremental, usually innocent, often problematic ways—we impose identity on children, before they’re even born, and before they can think and speak for themselves.

I wish we could sit more with the uncertainty at the beginning of each life. To value each person for who they might become rather than how they are categorized by a pregnancy ultrasound, or a cultural expectation. After all, we are all always becoming—even if that’s only to become more of what other people thought we were to begin with.

Today is the International Transgender Day of Remembrance. Let’s make those losses matter, and make the losses stop.

(Image from Peter Boag’s Re-Dressing America’s Frontier Past, a highly recommended account of gender nonconformity in the American West.)

[Author: Andrew Durkin]

Tags: Jazz, Andrew Durkin, Peter Boag, Dressing America


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