July 11th, 2013


On phases

[I had originally posted this as a locked post, but then people said it mattered to them and asked to share it, and so I'm reposting it as a public post. Feel free to link to it, quote it with attribution, and whatnot.]

I was reading a post about dealing with some of the flak that gets thrown at transgender people, and the usual "it's just a phase" thing came up.

And I started thinking of some stories [1]:

Someone dear to me recently commented that for the last couple of years she'd identified as mostly-lesbian, but now she was finding she was being interested in men too; what was up with that? I don't know what's up with that, but I do know that when she was identifying as mostly-lesbian, that was a pretty real thing that mattered.

Someone else dear to me is genderqueer, though when I met them ten years ago, they were happily approximately-female. Today they are sometimes female, and sometimes male, and often complicated, depending on whether the wind is north-north-West or southerly. Being female is pretty important to them. Being male is pretty important to them. All these things are real.

Someone else dear to me spent a half-dozen years being genderqueer, and then more recently has started identifying as male.

Someone else dear to me was unable to walk until a few months ago; now she's walking easily.

I could keep going for pages of these. There's something critically important here.

Life is phases.

Life is phases.

Life is phases.

(Anyone who says differently is selling something.)

Dismissing something as "just a phase" is not only dismissing the thing, but dismissing the idea that non-permanent things matter -- which is to say, dismissing life itself. We are human; we change, we grow, we shrink, we learn, we forget. When we stop changing, we are dead.

People's identities are no less real, and no less important, when they are not permanent.

So, in pushing back against the "it's just a phase" dismissals -- and, gods in pink feathers, does that need to be pushed back against -- let us be careful not to too quickly negate it to "it's not a phase". People can really be lesbian, or really be transgender, or really be genderqueer, or really be cisgendered, or really be heterosexual, or really be a physics major, or any of these things, for their whole lives or just for a time -- and they are as much really those things regardless of permanence, and as much deserving of respect and acceptance for who they are.

Let us not tell these people, even implicitly, that they were not "really" a lesbian if they become bisexual, that they are not "really" male today if they are female tomorrow, that they were not "really" genderqueer if they become straightforwardly male, or that they are not "really" a toddler because they will grow up.

[1] Of necessity these stories are oversimplified, which is why they're anonymized.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth (original here), with comment count unavailable comments. Comment here or there; comments here will eventually be duplicated to there.