Gender as Asymptotically Binary: A Different Way of Looking at Things

February 27, 2015

This is a rare thing for my blog.

This is a post about someone else’s post.

In the latest episode of Ditch Diggers, the writing-as-a-job podcast I co-host with author Mur Lafferty, we took a bunch of questions from Twitter at the end of the show like we always do. I suggested to Mur, quite gracious of me I thought, that we should make a point to credit all the Twitter users who asked us questions, something we tend to skip over. Because half the point is hearing your name on the show, right?

Because my grace is generally met with a big middle finger from the universe, the first question was from “Asymptotic Binary,” the former being a word I’d neither heard before nor pronounced correctly my first or even second or third go. I felt a little like a schmuck. I’m sure I mocked AB for it to cover my embarrassment. That’s how I roll.

In response, AB wrote this post about just what the hell “asymptotic binary” means. She @’ed both Mur and me when tweeting it.

Here’s the thing. I glanced at it, skimmed, saw a bunch of graphs and math terminology and my eyes glazed over more than a little. Yours might, too.

Keep reading past the technico shit even if you’re not so inclined.

You see, in addition to being a mathematician and a lot smarter than me AB is a trans woman, and she’s used this very technical-sounding concept to help her explore and redefine the traditional genders with which we’ve all been presented most of our lives. She’s also a creative who has grappled with depression and PTSD, and writes some very compelling and interesting stuff about how those two things collide.

It was all very unexpected. And touching. And cool.

I don’t like people. When you gather in groups larger than two you really do suck. But I’m always interested in an individual, particularly when they remind us no one is one thing, particularly when they surprise me like AB did, particularly when they have a worthy story to tell.

It also reminded me why, deep down, I do things like blog and podcast.

Read the thing. It’s good.