Tag Archives: acceptance

Saying we’re all the same erases our differences and the problems they cause

The comic included in this post hit my Tumblr dashboard this weekend thanks to Mad Gastronomer.  The comic was done by eighteen year old queer artist Elias Ericson and can also be found on his blog here.  I think it’s a great.  I also wish I had been half as wise and insightful at Elias’s age as he seems to be.  (For more examples of his great insight, see these two other comics.)

I love this comic because I too have heard the things said in that first panel.  And I get that the person saying it often has good intentions.  Zie sees people being treated poorly because they are different from the “average” person — for whatever that means.  Zie assumes that if we quit focusing on differences, then everyone will be treated better.  It’s a neat idea.  It’s a noble idea.  It just doesn’t work.

You see, pretending we’re not different doesn’t actually make us all the same.  It just makes our differences invisible.  That’s just as problematic, because it also tends to make invisible the unique difficulties and problems that people face because of their differences.  It erases the fact that society inherently privileges and disadvantaged different people based on those differences.  Ignoring that fact doesn’t make it go away.  In fact, it just makes it impossible to do anything to change it.

Plus, there’s the fact that if a person have to pretend that someone is “the same” as everyone else to treat them the same as everyone else, zie hasn’t accepted that person at all.  Acceptance requires accepting a person exactly as they are and embracing their idiosyncrasies, their unique characteristics, and everything else about them.  Acceptance of individuals means acceptance and acknowledgement of diversity.  Accepting a re-tooled image of someone that allows one to pretend that zie is just like everyone else is hurtful to hir.

And I love that Elias managed to capture that in this comic.


Going beyond my experience

After a long silence, I’ve decided that it’s time to start blogging again.  I’m actually excited about an upcoming post I’m planning to publish, as it involves doing something a bit new for me.  I’m not exactly sure when I’ll be posting it, as I’m waiting for it to finish undergoing editorial review.

Normally, I don’t submit my blog posts to anyone for editorial review.  Most of the time, I don’t review them myself.  I just put something together, do a few last minutes tweaks, and then hit the button to publish the darn thing.  The process of asking others to review my writing before sharing it with the world is entirely new to me.  But then, this kind of post is entirely new to me, and therefore demands to be treated differently.

The post I’m referring to is a review of a panel discussion on transgender issues that I attended yesterday evening.  The discussion was delightful and interesting, and I decided that I wanted to find a way to share it on my blog.

The thing is, I’m relatively uneducated and clueless when it comes to transgender issues, which means that posting on the topic is a bit troubling and tricky to me.  As such, I have asked the organizers and speakers from last night’s event to review and offer feedback on my post.  I wish to do my best job to accurately represent their words, their experiences, and their concerns as accurately as possible, and that means inviting them to check my work.

To be honest, I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand transgender issues.  Not being transgendered, I think that it’s simply something that is beyond my experience in ways that prevent me from fully understanding.  There are a lot of things out there that are like that.  (I often feel the same way when trying to understand my friends who have or had multiple personalities.)  I think everyone comes into contact with things that are beyond their experience and therefore difficult and even possibly to truly understand.

The question becomes one of what we do when we are faced with something beyond our own experience.  Do we try to force that new information, those foreign ideas, or the experiences of others to fit into our own mold?  Do we try to dismiss these things, insisting that our own experience can’t possibly be incomplete and that our inability to fully understand can only mean that something must be wrong with whatever we don’t understand?

Or do we simply acknowledge that our own experiences are limited and our own understanding incomplete is at best as a result?  Do we set aside our own preconceived notions and try our best to listen and understand, even if incompletely?  Do we try to connect and attain partial understanding by finding analogous experiences in our own life, taking care to remember that such analogues are imperfect and still only provide us partial understanding?  Do we accept that even in our imperfect understanding, there can be perfect acceptance?

It is with these latter goals in mind that I went to last night’s discussion and wrote my soon-to-be-published blog post.  It is with those goals in mind that I asked others to review my work and dialogue with me to help me understand and further share those things that are beyond my own experience.  I think there is nothing nobler than a desire to offer perfect acceptance while gaining imperfect (though improving) understanding.