Blog wrap-up: The drafts that didn’t make it

As I close things up around here, I wanted to share some of the bits that have languished in my ‘Drafts’ folder through the years. I felt strongly enough about these topics to start writing about them, but not strongly enough (or perhaps coherently enough) to finish.

I am not my child’s best teacher, and that’s OK

This draft dates back to when Little Boy was two or maybe not even two yet.  It was about coming to terms with all the new songs and words and skills he was bringing home from daycare.

“Here is my son, so big and yet still so small, with a rich external life away from his parents.  Here he is, doing things I’ve never seen before, things that I didn’t teach him, things that he learned from someone else.”

Looking back now, I don’t remember exactly how I worked through those feelings, just that I did.  Little Boy is in kindergarten now and he has an amazing teacher and his own five-year-old social life and it feels completely right.  Younger Brother is learning two-year-old things both at home and at daycare, and I feel good about that, too.

Tell me about the books you grew up reading

Inspired by this Grumpy Rumblings post from, uh, 2017, I started musing about the books I loved as a kid.  Many of these had been passed down from my mother’s childhood.

The TL; DR version is that I read a lot of Enid Blyton.

“I came away with a picture of postwar England as a semi-idyllic place where children were sent to boarding school as a matter of course, then spent their holidays caravanning on the moors and getting up to all sorts of adventures.  I also came away with the strong impression that pre-decimalisation English money made absolutely no sense.”

These are your regular reminders

This was intended to be a multi-part post about things that people frequently get wrong, but it never got beyond me ranting that Millennials are not in high school anymore damnit!!

Like many Millennials, I’m rather tired of the parade of think pieces about the apparently awful features of my generation.  Probably every generation since the dawn of humankind has dealt with this kind of thing, but we’re the first to see it proliferate on the internet.  It was annoying enough back when the articles were mostly about actual Millennials, but half the clickbait these days isn’t even talking about the right people.

I have a wife now! Let me answer your questions

I ended up making a rather short “FYI my spouse is a woman now” post when my wife legally transitioned, but I’d originally had something longer in mind.  It petered out, though, perhaps because I didn’t actually have that much to say, or perhaps because I didn’t know how to say it.

Q. How are you doing with your wife’s transition?

A. Quite well, thanks.  There have been parts of this that have been rough on me, but they’re never the parts that people expect.

People always ask that question with certain expectations, and they’re always wrong.  I’m not an Amazing Wife and I don’t have a story of Love Triumphing Over Hardship.  I just have love.

A quick pronoun announcement

Amid all the stress leading up to Younger Brother’s surgery—it went well and I am so grateful for everyone who sent supportive words—we had a good family event.  My wife changed her name and legal gender: she is now she and her and wife.  (She has been going by Mom with the kids for some time.)

I’ve added a note on my About page to help any future readers who might stumble upon my archives.  I’m still married to—and very much in love with—the same wonderful person.

Survey vent, part 2: do gender better

For the last few years, all the official student surveys coming from my university have offered three options for gender: male, female, and transgender.  I appreciate that they’re trying—it’s better than only listing male and female—but arg, no, that’s not how it works.

By itself, “transgender” isn’t a gender; rather, it’s a descriptor meaning that your gender identity doesn’t match up with the gender you were assumed to have at birth.  Transgender people are male and female and non-binary, not an extra separate gender.

I’ve seen other surveys that attempt to do better by offering four options: male, female, transgender male, and transgender female.  However, that kind of setup implies that trans people aren’t “real” members of their gender.  It would be somewhat less problematic if the first two were specifically listed as “cisgender male” and “cisgender female”—but if you really need to know whether your survey respondents are cis or trans, consider breaking that into another question.  The Human Rights Campaign has a good example of a survey approach that separates “What is your gender?” from “Do you identify as transgender?”

Of course, as alluded to above, gender is not binary, and your survey also needs an option for people who are non-binary / genderfluid / genderqueer / agender / etc.  (Not to imply that these terms are interchangeable, because they are not, just that at bare minimum there needs to be some kind of “outside the gender binary” selection available.)  If your survey design allows it, an additional option with an open text field will help you avoid unintentionally excluding anyone.  And personally, I’d also like to see a “prefer not to say” choice for gender, as is common on some of the other demographic questions.