(TW: gender dysphoria, suicide, misgendering)
A few weekends ago we made a spontaneous decision…. to buy a hamster. We got the cage and all the toys. We bought the food, bedding and oh my goodness I was so excited.
We had selected the name and were ready to go. We got to the pet shop, chose the cutest and sweetest little hamster I have ever seen. Got home and boom, we are now pet owners! How exciting.
The name we chose was Rupert (Rupi for short). Like Rupert bear because hamsters are like tiny little winnie the poohs – in my opinion anyway. Our little Rupert also happens to be a “female”.
Despite people thinking this was a political statement, it really wasn’t. We loved the name, loved the hamster – a match made in heaven. At least that’s what we thought!
A sample of the conversations that have followed:
“Rupert… how old is he?”
“Well, she is a couple of weeks old!”
“Did you pick the name before you realised…..?!” *shocked face* …. “What about RupertAA”.
People think it’s weird and don’t get it. “Oh, everyone has to be gender fluid now!?” roars of laughter and looks of how ridiculous the world we live in must be. “We’re not even allowed to say the word gender at all are we!”
Now as much as I love our little ball of fluff, I know that she is unlikely to make a big impact on the world. But what she has made me realise is that we have a long way to go.
On a daily basis, I am reminded of people’s small-mindedness towards gender, with disregard for other identities and how someone else might feel by clumsy language.
If you’re not sure why we need gender neutrality and what the “big deal” is with saying some things are for boys, some things are for girls. Then one thing I would say, is how lucky you are. You have not experienced the gut-wrenching feeling of being given the wrong pronoun or feeling left out of society. You may not know that 45% of trans pupils have tried to take their own life. It may seem all ‘too much’ or ‘over the top’. With the ignorant likes of Piers Morgan and other prime time telly people chuckling at the “confusing” gender politics that is becoming more and more prominent in our media, I can see why you might find it hard to take seriously. Often these shows don’t give a lot of airtime to educated allies and people from the LGBT+ community who may be able to explain why all this stuff matters.
Just know that if you can open your mind, be a little more self-aware and accept criticism if you make a mistake, you could maybe even save a life. You could make a parent worry a little less about the future of their recently out child or make a non-binary teenager feel like there is some hope left for them in this world.
As for Rupert, I am pretty sure she’s happy with her name if it comes with a few treats and extra bedding.