What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

Greetings, Human February 23, 2015

Filed under: I Meant Well — meganorussell @ 8:30 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

So, here’s the thing. Yes, it is going to be another one of those posts. I am all about gays’ rights. Gay marriage, for instance. I don’t see why a person being gay should have anything to do with their status as a human being. Ever since I was a little girl, I could never grasp why some people made such a big deal about it.

The same thing goes with transgendered people. If you need to change what you look like to match what you feel like, go for it. Live your life. Be happy. Miserable people rarely contribute to the world. And when they do, it’s usually really sad art before they cut off their own ear and die. So, let’s make happy art and be happy people.

But I need a word. I need a non-gender-specific version of sir and/or ma’am.

If you are born a man and are clearly living your life or your nights as a woman, of course I’ll call you ma’am. I don’t care if you have an Adam’s apple. Your appearance is telling me you prefer feminine pronouns. I’ll go with it.

But there is a lovely human who works at the gas station near a theatre I frequently work for. He has moderate facial hair, an Adam’s apple, and a nametag with a male name. But she also has breasts, long hair, and long, fabulously manicured nails.

I know you’re probably thinking, “Why not leave off the sir or ma’am while getting someone’s attention if you’re not sure of their gender preference?” Because I use sir and ma’am as a sign of polite respect. I don’t want to not use anything with the nice gas station human. I don’t want to leave off the respect because they are living a different lifestyle. So I need a word.

Like friend, but that would be creepy. Hey, friend, you dropped you phone!

Or human, but then I would sound like a Ferengi.  Sorry, human, could I squeak past real quick?

Comrade sounds too hostile. Sweetheart is a little feminine and too familiar. I just want to be able to express my thanks to the lovely human at the gas station with a non-gender specific term of social respect! Is that too much to ask?

Do you know the word I’m looking for? Any clues?

Help a confused, wanting-to-be-polite, human out.


7 Responses to “Greetings, Human”

  1. acubedsf Says:

    Fascinating how so many “friend” synonyms “feel” gendered. “Buddy”, “partner”, “pal” … all feel male. Some people use “dude” for both genders, though it also feels male to me. How about “neighbor”? Feel like Mr. Rogers? Oddly, the antonyms don’t feel gendered: “enemy”, “foe”, “opponent”, or even “stranger”. I wonder what that says about our language … or us.

  2. AthenaC Says:

    “Comrade” also has the misfortune of sounding like a throwback to Communist Russia.

    I’m with you, though – I would love a non-gendered version of sir / ma’am. There’s enough situations where you just don’t know how to address a person for whatever reason, and any of the friend / buddy / pal words – they’re too informal to really substitute, even if they didn’t feel gendered, as acubedsf points out.

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