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It All Comes Down to Gender

I was going through donations my department received today and having a good time. They were toiletry bags of all sizes and colors, and were donated by a local department store. I started dividing the bags in a huge box to make it easier to gift to my clients when the time came. It was a matter of time before I caught myself unconsciously sorting the bags by gender. You know, “This is pink, it’s girly. This is dark blue, the boys would love this,” and I immediately stopped.

We’re living in a whole new environment now, co-existing with new generations who prefer to be gender fluid and I’ve been schooled about this several times. Believe it or not, as cool as most people think I am, I’m still old school in many ways. Of course, to accommodate clients, I must be conscientious about their needs and make an effort to refer to them as they ask.

But I was a little too hard on myself. I make mistakes just like everyone else, and correct myself when I must. But it bothered me that I was alarmed into consciousness as I was sorting the bags the first time around.

There’s a difference between conscientious maliciousness and innocent mistakes, but I’ve run into some from the young crowd who can’t see that line and find mislabeling genders as a depraved indifference.

I’m not the only one who’s heard the harsh criticism of mispronouncing or forgetting a person’s name. As someone who has an unorthodox, Middle Eastern name, I’ve had people profusely apologize for, as they put it, “butchering my name,” or having to ask me repeatedly to pronounce my name. I’m never offended by such mistakes and shrug them off, as long as no one is intending to ridicule me.

So I started thinking to myself, why can’t I divide the bags as I prefer? I unintentionally misled my kids as they were growing up to believe the color pink was primarily worn by girls, blue’s and gray’s by men, and so on and so forth. Yet all three of them are caught up with the times and are, thankfully, very aware of gender descriptions and respect gender neutrality. At the risk of calling my sons out though, neither one of them will wear the color pink or purple, although they’re alright with anyone else who does.

It’s important to respect the direction that gender talk has taken, whether or not we’re in agreement. It’s important to teach the younger generations that they are being heard and respected, so when someone asks me to refer to them as “they,” I gladly oblige. But what I do on my own time is my business.

So as I started resorting the bags the second time around, I went ahead and labeled them as I prefer. Because my wishes deserve to be respected as well.

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