When Spalling came in
to their little office to log
the latest trades, V was there
reading messages from Astin.
Xyr paperwork was
on another screen with
the O line highlighted.
"Thinking about ... other options
again?" Spalling asked V.
"I am," V said. "I have
an established identity, but
much of it does not fit me well.
An alternative has its appeal,
but also certain costs."
"I can see why," Spalling said.
"Even with Astin in the Lacuna, you'd
be the only other-gendered person here.
It's not fun, being a minority of one."
"Astin is no longer that," said V,
pointing to another screen showing
a different set of paperwork. "Sphinx
has declared Other as well, and
uses the pronouns ey, eir, em."
"You sound like you're giving it
serious consideration as well,"
Spalling said. "It's good to think
through things like this, rather
than jump to conclusions."
"I have not yet reached a decision,"
V said. "There are many variables
to account for, many pros and cons
to weigh before choosing."
"Why don't you talk to Astin
about this?" Spalling suggested.
"Xe has gone through it already."
"It will not be the same for me," V said.
"I like Astin, but we're very different people."
Spalling shrugged. "So what?"
he said. "My old drill sergeant
used to say that nobody ever
ran the same obstacle course,
because it feels different to
each person going through."
"I will write to Astin," said V,
"and also to this Sphinx."
"That's the spirit!" Spalling said.
"Even if it's not exactly the same
for them, they may have ideas
that will help you decide."
"That would be useful," V agreed.
"Besides, there's one benefit that
you get just for looking at other options,
whether or not you choose to change
your paperwork," Spalling said.
"What's that?" V asked.
"The choice itself," Spalling said.
"Whatever you decide, your gender
will be your choice from now onward,
regardless of what your paperwork says."
"That," V said. "That helps."
* * *
Sphinx is a codeworker of Other gender who uses the Elverson pronouns ey, eir, eirs, em, emself.
Sex and gender are complex issues. People are prone to argue over whether these are choices. Given a large amount of data with different clusters of points, a logical conclusion is that some people have far more choice in this regard than others. It is certainly true that we have more choice now than our ancestors did, due to the advent of options like sexual realignment surgery and hormone therapy. It is probable that the future will bring additional options which we do not enjoy today -- and our descendants will probably still be arguing over whether those are choices.