Some readers may recall an earlier post of mine, Gender Benders, which described a couple of occasions when I encountered kids whose gender I couldn’t quite figure out. The piece went on to ruminate on the question: does gender really matter? Today I came across another situation, with a side of joy to it!
Here’s the scene: I’m driving home after work, along a quiet residential street in Montreal West. Up ahead I spot two boys on roller skates, playing street hockey with sticks and some sort of ball. I note, first, that they are wearing helmets (good job, parents!); second, that they appear to be laughing and having a fabulous time; and third, that they have on old-fashioned four-wheeled roller skates – just like back in the day in the ’50s! I give a little beep to make sure they skate off to the side of the road… noticing, as they do, the nostalgic scrape-y sound of metal wheels on asphalt.
That really takes me back! And then, as I slow down, I glance at the boys while passing them by. But guess what? They aren’t boys, they’re girls! Pre-teens, around 10 or 11 I’d guess, and they were playing hockey.
A silly wide grin spreads across my face as I wave to them.
One day… surely one day, such a sight would never cause a ripple of surprise. Because one day, these kids will grow up, and will agitate for equality. Yes, I know there’s women’s hockey now. But let’s face it, there is not the money nor the cachet involved in it – yet.
One day we will come across kids playing hockey in the street and not assume that they are boys, in the same way that we learned not to assume that a doctor was a male.
I hope I’m still around to see that.