Recently on Trending with Timmerie, Timmerie examined ways to navigate modern language, given its growing resemblance to a minefield, especially in the realm of gender and pronoun usage.
Given the developments over the past few years that saw a massive rise in the number of people who identify as something other than the gender they were born as, Timmerie Geagea recalled two similar stories with very different outcomes. The first took place about 15 to 20 years ago in a Carl’s Jr. drive-thru. In the line was a family in a car that was being driven by the father. As he took orders and regurgitated the items to the cashier on the other end of the speakerphone, the cashier began responding, “Okay, no problem, ma’am. Yes, of course, ma’am. Thank you, ma’am.” Everybody in the car began laughing hysterically. This cashier, who couldn’t see that the person ordering was a man, had mistaken this father for a woman. It was, by all accounts, very funny.
Fast-forward to just a couple of years ago and Timmerie remembered being in another line, this time at Starbucks with a friend. As they reached the front of the line, Timmerie recalled that the cashier checking them out was clearly a woman, was dressed like so, and by all appearances was presenting herself as a woman. Timmerie’s friend, an older man, responded to the cashier by referring to them as “ma’am”. He asked her how her day was and politely thanked her for the service. After a moment, the cashier responded tersely, “I am not a woman. Don’t call me that!” The older man apologized immediately, but the cashier wasn’t in the forgiving mood.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly witnessed the pronoun hysteria that’s swept across the nation and probably heard a dozen stories like this last one. “We see [preferred pronouns] in email signatures, social media bios. We see it in the professional setting on nametags, video conference calls, even in classrooms for kids and even college students,” said Timmerie. People face disciplinary action from employers or schools for neglecting to participate in this confusing game of pronouns. It almost seems like institutions are intentionally trying to make social interaction more complicated and confusing.
The predicament is this: While we are Catholics whose teachings are founded upon the tenants of faith, hope, and charity, are we really expected to modify our linguistic conventions to conform with the progressively stringent rules of an uncompromising society? We are taught from the very beginning to treat all with respect and love, especially those with whom we might not agree, but at what point does humility turn into spiritless submission? On the opposite side, at what point are we being insensitive for the sake of pride and principle?
Timmerie said that to answer this question, we must be sure we are taking a biblical worldview. We cannot separate our personal lives and our spiritual lives. They are one and the same. Taking this question from that perspective, we can propose that we are all made in the image and likeness of God; you, me, and all those who might be confused about their gender identity. Given that, God doesn’t make mistakes. “God doesn’t lie about who we are, and we shouldn’t lie to others about who they are.” Everything is done for a reason, and He didn’t mistakenly put women in men’s bodies and men in women’s bodies. No matter how much plastic surgery someone gets, or what hormones they take, or what they change their name to, that doesn’t affect the person who God made them to be.
Timmerie suggested a strategy that would both help preclude us from being intentionally confrontational and help us avoid being dishonest. She said that often when she forgets somebody’s name, she refers to them as “you” instead of trying to guess their name. She admits that she also uses this strategy with people who are confused about their gender or their pronouns and it seems to work. If she’s ever asked what her “preferred pronouns” are, she explains her belief that men are created men, women are created women, and she is a woman, therefore you can refer to her as such.
Timmerie also advised that if you ever find yourself in a potentially awkward situation, whether that be with someone who’s challenging you on your faith, you’re helping someone with a crisis, or someone just explained their pronoun situation, begin by praying to the Holy Spirit. Pray, “Come, Holy Spirit,” because you don’t know what to do. As Timmerie says, He may call you to silence, He may call you to listen, or He may call you to speak up.
As Catholics, we don’t want to be known as somebody who goes along with something they don’t believe in, nor as someone who’s directly confrontational, insensitive, and uncharitable. People who struggle with gender issues or their sexuality can often confirm that they have deep-seated, unresolved issues and we as Catholics want to be known as people who can love and affirm the humanity in everyone.
Listen to the full conversation below:
Tune in to Trending with Timmerie weekdays at 6pm CT