A Needed conversation

Shopping at Old Navey I overhear a boy, maybe 3 years old say to his mother, “Mommy is that a girl?” I turn to see who spoke and the mother looks around and doesn’t say anything. I feel for her. But I love her boy. Kids ask the greatest questions.  Most difficult and at the same time most simple and necessary questions.  These are hard questions for adults. We’ve lived longer, been hurt more, and done our share of hurting.  And through it all I think we’ve forgotten how to have a real conversation.  The poet Antonio Machado writes “to have a conversation, ask a question first, then – listen.” Simple.  Except our questions tend to be rhetorical, and we only listen for things to oppose. 

Of course that boy in Old Navy isn’t aware of any of this.  He just wants to know if I am a girl.  He asks and then would have listened had someone been there to offer a possible answer.  But it wasn’t nearby, and know one knew how to answer. They didn’t know how to answer, I believe, they don’t dare or know how or feel it’s appropriate to ask. 

So if anyone cares, or wants, or isn’t sure about a question, just ask yourself: do I want to understand and am I prepared to listen. If the answers are both yes, then ask. For the love of mankind we need you to ask.


4 thoughts on “A Needed conversation

  1. What a beautiful post and what a wonderful lady you are to see the beauty in your memory! I found myself feeling so touched by your post! You are a talented writer.

  2. It would be great if adults felt comfortable enough to ask directly. I am guessing at this but it my be fun to be given an opportunity to answer. Though I have read of others who felt that they actually were asked – and way too often – so it became a burden. Maybe it would good to have signs or lapel buttons (but what if you don’t have a lapel?), saying “Yes, I am a girl”. Because, frankly, I bet the majority of Americans still do not know the possibility of gender reassignment exists and definitely do not know why it exists and why it is such a blessing.

    • I suppose my inexperience makes me long for a person to ask me a genuine question. After years of this though I’m sure it gets old and even frustrating. But trans people aren’t the only ones who are misunderstood. I’m thinking of an old Japanese poet who wrote “my neighbor – how does he live, I wonder.” This is the sort of question that few people genuinely ask anymore. But it’s this conversation that we desperately need. Not the “this is how I live” monologuing, but the “how do you live” kind of exploration that must lead to greater understanding, greater compassion, and less stubborn judgement,

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