Ticking boxes

A friend recently posted a photo online of her youngest son drawing.  She commented on his left-handedness.  I usually spot this, being a lefty myself.  At work, I've had members of the public comment as I write something down.  It seems all lefties feel like they're in a special club and like to say hi to someone just like them.  It often makes me smile, as we talk about our shared awkwardness of navigating a right-handed world.  Don't get me started on spiral bound notebooks or smudgy pen ink!!

I commented that I think I must have been one of the last generations to be assessed at school for my left-handedness.  Thank goodness I came after the years of people being forced to use their right hand or being beaten!  But I have a small exercise book somewhere in a box, that I've had since early primary school.  I remember having to write down one side with my left hand and the other with my right.  Eventually there is a note from my teacher saying she believes I am naturally left handed.  I still scratch my head that it was ever a 'thing' that needed assessing.

I guess I am confusing to people.  I'm a left-hander that does a lot of things right handed.  I use my mouse in my right hand, type on my iPhone right handed, knit, play guitar and use scissors in my right hand.  But I use a pen, spoon and chop sticks in my left hand.  Yep, in essence I just pick stuff up with whatever hand feels comfortable.  And sometimes I get confused and can't figure out which hand feels correct!  Sometimes both; sometimes neither.

But why should any of this make a difference?  Why should it have been of concern to my teacher?  In essence I wonder if it's because we like to be able to classify people.  Tick an appropriate box for where they fit in.  Categorise them.  And this made me think about gender.  There is more and more awareness of trans and intersex people. Their identity and sense of self is based on who they feel they are, rather than genetics or biology.  But in reality why should they have to identify as anything other than who they are?  Is it merely so they can fit into forms that only have a tick box for male or female?

I know a lot of people hate filling out census information, which is the ultimate box ticking exercise.  But as a librarian I can see how useful these sort of demographic statistics can be.  Who are we and how is our population changing.  Exactly how many people practice 'Jedi' as a religion?  I do realise though that if you are to capture meaningful data it does have to accurately reflect exactly who the population are.  So perhaps we need to add a few more boxes for people to tick.  I love the idea of their being another option to Mr, Mrs or Ms.  Mx is great.  I salute a gender neutral option.

You see, it may seem weird for a librarian to take this stance.  We are seen as people who like to organise and categorise information.  I love having a system like Dewey to group stuff together.  But what I love more is that it had to evolve.  When Melvil Dewey first classified the world it was 1876.  The world has kept changing from that moment and now we've been able to add call numbers for technology such as the internet that would never have been dreamed of.  So maybe that's my point.

It might be ok to make people fit into boxes or to categorise them...as long as the options keep evolving with us.  I can't imagine why left-handedness was so scorned in years gone by.  And I think we've proven that the world won't end if I use a spoon in my left hand.  So everyone should be able to just be how they are supposed to be and go about life.  No tests, no assessments, just more choice.  Viva la différence and long live the lefty!


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