When gender capitalist Rain Dove's interaction with a mom concerned about their child's gender transition went viral, it restored our faith in humanity just a little bit.
Rain Dove calls themselves a "gender capitalist." A gender capitalist is a person who understands that there are certain advantages and disadvantages to being a particular sex or gender and, thus, capitalizes on that theory. Gender capitalism, though still a rather new concept in mainstream society, has already received backlash by those who believe gender is binary. As someone who is open, out, and proud on social media, as you would expect, Dove receives quite a lot of backlash themselves for their gender identity. On one such occasion, a hateful mother contacted them to let them know they had made the parent's child sick—because they wanted to transition from one gender to another. The now-viral text exchange that ensued shows that all people can change their mindsets and be more accepting if only they were just a little empathetic.
The conversation began when the mother sent Dove a direct message on Instagram. She stated, "My child is sick due to you." Dove, having received so many messages like hers, responded with a curt rhetorical question. "Oh no! Did I give them the flu?" they asked. The mother went on to explain that her child wished to transition from being a girl to a boy, all while using incorrect pronouns and misgendering him. She added that her son wanted to receive a "strap thing for [his] chest" — a binder — for Christmas. A binder is a compression undergarment that looks similar to a t-shirt made of spandex used to bind the breasts to the body, creating a flatter chest. This process can be rather daunting for those who are unfamiliar with it, but it is safe—if done correctly and with the appropriate tools.
Instead of ignoring or lashing out at her, Dove decided to take a calmer approach. By extending a helping hand and even asking about how the parent felt about all this, the gender capitalist opened up a dialog that would have otherwise not taken place. After all, they are under no obligation to talk to or educate individuals who send them hateful messages. The mother quickly opened up and shared what she felt about her child transitioning. The two even connected over the impact of technology on our daily lives and relationships. Dove affirmed, "You must have really created a space of open communication and safety for them to have asked you for a binder. That's special — you don't want to lose that." Then, they shared important information about binders that would make the process easier for her son.
Ultimately, the parent came around, recognizing that perhaps they had a point. "I'm doing research on the [binders], will chat later," the mom concluded. "Thank you very much for talking me through without being angry. I want [him] to live a life [he] loves, that's all." Dove took screenshots of the exchange and posted them on Instagram, stating, "Binding can be lifesaving and ease much anxiety. I must note that it alone won’t make someone feel complete in their existence. We must work to dismantle toxic oppressions that lead to social oppression and anxieties. We must create a space of love for all people to live in no matter their bodies. We must create a safe space for dialog." The gender capitalist succeeded in doing just that. Nonetheless, it must be remembered that the onus of accepting each other and our gender identities should never be placed on those who in the LGBTQ+ community. Dove may have changed one person's point of view, but we — specifically cis folk — must all come together to make sure gender non-conforming folk feel accepted, loved, and included.