It’s an opportunity

By Grace Curry

When I heard there was a poster about nonbinary genders and pronouns hung up at Tigard High, I was pleasantly surprised.


When I heard it was torn down by my peers shortly after its appearance, I wasn’t surprised at all.


Being nonbinary means questions and accusations. Questions about what it “feels like” or “how it works” (these questions don’t exactly have proper answers, do they?), or accusations such as “you’re doing it for attention” or “you’re making it up.”


You could say this is because nonbinary and third genders are new, but they actually aren’t at all! In Hawaiian culture there are people called māhū, which translates to “in the middle”. They had traditional roles both in spirituality and society and are only unheard of due to American influence which condemned the thought of a third gender. Another example would be the hijaras of India. Hijaras are a third gender that are born male but present in a more feminine way, and they are given spiritual roles that neither men or women are allowed.So while nonbinary identities may seem “new,” in reality they’ve been around for a while, just newly accepted in American culture.


Having posters hung around the school is a great way to encourage acceptance for those uncomfortable with being male or female, however they don’t do much good when they’re laying on the ground.


Or much good at all if they were torn down in the first place, after all that just shows that the posters didn’t teach anything.


However, this opens up an opportunity. I would absolutely love to have an open conversation about gender identities at our school where students who reject the identities of those with nonbinary genders can maybe gain some sympathy.


While no one can really explain how gender works (well, unless you’re a psychiatrist)  or how it “feels,” we can at least try to understand one another. We can at least accept what makes others more comfortable in their skin, whether it’s your personal belief or not.


The issue I have with the action of tearing the poster down is an issue of respect. The student or students who tore it down are essentially saying “I don’t respect your decision to go by other pronouns.”


However what they didn’t anticipate is the opportunity it opened up. We as a community now have a wonderful gateway into talking about diversity– and not just gender diversity. Tigard High has students from diverse racial and economic backgrounds, too, and all of us have a different experience with growing up. We’re all such beautifully unique people, and it’s time we embrace that and respect the decisions that come from these unique experiences.


I suppose in the end I’m only asking you, my community, to respect those around you. The LGBT+ community is not hurting anyone, and the goal of my writing isn’t to force a lifestyle on those who are comfortable in the gender binary. All I wish is for people to see nonbinary kids for who they are.