"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive boy who often thought he should have been a girl - -

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

... you don't have to understand ...

About a year ago, early on in my transition, a male friend was telling me of a conversation with his father-in-law, who had known me for many years. This older, very traditional male was having trouble with the idea that a person he had known as a man for over a decade was now presenting as a woman; had changed her name to reflect that and so forth. He was worried, wondering what would happen when he saw me, because this was so far outside of his comfort zone. He didn't think it would be possible to accept me, because he couldn't understand such a change.

My friend explained to him that it wasn't really important to understand what was going on with me. It was enough for him to accept that what was going on was right for me.

Quite a few years ago my wife and I were in a restaurant, waiting for our meal to arrive. A group of 'ladies' were ushered to a nearby table. My wife assumed they were crossdressing and made some negative, judgement-filled comment. She then turned to me and expressed great embarrassment at the thought that I might soon be doing the same thing.

Her reaction might have seemed to be typical since none of these women were doing a lot to conceal the fact that they were men dressed up and having a good time pretending to be one of the girls for the day. I wish that I had found the words that my friend found. I would have told my wife the same thing, "What they are doing isn't hurting us - it's right for them. We don't have to understand."

There are times in our lives when we have to decide how we will act in difficult social situations. When we don't understand the way someone lives their life and we need to interact with them, then we should accept them without explanation or if we are interested and caring enough, try to find out more about what it is like to be in 'their shoes'. It seems to me that choosing to discredit another reflects more upon our character than theirs.


9 comments:

  1. absolutely 100% correct Halle and very well stated. People don't need to understand but they need to respect "in spite" of this inability to relate. If anything that is what is wrong with the world; as soon as people don't relate they demean...

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  2. Well said! Joanna said that people don't need to understand. Correct, but here comes the problem. People think they DO need to understand in a society that is so ego-thinking oriented. I suspect that put in a position in which such individuals do not feel threatened, the need to understand is less evident. As I have said before, most negative responses of the kind you highlight are fear based.

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  3. Joanna and Tom, you both have highlighted issues highly correlated; lack of positive self-image, and fear of the unknown. When threatened, we go on the defensive and sometimes we even go onto the offensive; creating and 'solving' problems where none really exist.
    Thank you both.

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  4. Hear! Hear! It distresses me (has distressed me for a long time) that so many folks fear the unknown, the Other, the different one. You're all so right. I am having trouble understanding - why does it all have to be about "me" these days. It's such a constricted way of living. So insular.

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    1. Dear R, perhaps the reaction so many are having to this latest round of global fear of the unknown will bring positive change. We can only hope.

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  5. What a great post - So well said!!!!!

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  6. Great post Halle and very lovely blog (thanks to Lindsay I found it). And yes, I can accept without understanding and that sure beats judging and hurting. I can also seek to understand - and become so much richer for it, something I've learned through my daughter and many of her friends.

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    1. Welcome Gary! I know that lovely feeling when learning from my daughter and son. A great validation of your parenting skills.

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