I have never before been to a meeting of radical political activists where part of the introduction was to announce “your pronouns.” Transgender people – and a certain segment of young people, in general – make an explicit choice to be called “she, her,” “he, him,” or “they, them.” Of the 80 people who attended a community meeting of the Block the Bunker coalition, Monday, Sep. 12, at least 10 of them announced their preference to be called “they, them,” a neutral designation that eschews gender norms.
For a conventional, old, white guy like me (“he, him”), this up-front concern with gender identity was a culture shock, and not the only one. The group was predominantly young – largely in their early to mid-20s – and half non-white. There was in the room a palpable feeling of solidarity born of alienation from conventional society. There was talk of being oppressed and the need to fight back. I had the unusual experience, for me, of being in a distinct minority. I wrote in my notebook: “It is perfectly appropriate for me to remain silent.”