Advice King: I Don't Understand My Grandchild's Gender-Neutral Pronouns

Comedian, musician, host of Chris Crofton's Advice King Podcast and former Nashvillian Chris Crofton asked the Scene for an advice column, so we gave him one. Crowning himself the “Advice King,” Crofton will share his hard-won wisdom with whosoever seeks it. Follow Crofton on Facebook and Twitter, and to submit a question for the Advice King, email bestofbread[at]gmail[dot]com or editor[at]nashvillescene[dot]com.


Dear Advice King,

Back when I was growing up, a boy was a boy and a girl was a girl. Now my grandson insists we call him "they" for some reason. It's baffling — he's only one person, right?! All these new labels are silly. How can I get through to him?

—Very Confused in Philadelphia

“Back when I was growing up, a boy was a boy and a girl was a girl.”

How interesting. Back when I was growing up there were no gay people. That’s right, there were no gay people in my hometown. Seems impossible, right? It seems impossible because it is indeed impossible. But as far as I knew there weren’t any. And do you know why? Because the gay people in my hometown probably did not feel like my hometown was a safe place to be gay. And they were right. They would have faced discrimination at best, violence at worst. So if I were an IDIOT, I could walk around saying, “Back when I was growing up, everyone was straight.” But that wouldn’t make it true, “Very Confused.” At least you know that you are confused. 

Now, why do you suppose the gay folks in my town would have faced discrimination and violence? I’ll tell you why, since you are admittedly confused: religion. 

Almost everyone in my tiny, all-white Connecticut hometown was a Christian. I was too. We were taught from a young age that homosexuality was a sin. We were also taught that homosexuality was a choice. Grown men (Catholic priests) told me (a child) that there were no “true” homosexuals. According to them, “homosexuals” were actually heterosexuals who chose to have gay sex “for kicks.” Since I was a child, and adults were telling me this, I believed them. And it wasn’t really something I had to think about much since, COINCIDENTALLY, there were “no gay people” in my hometown. 

I was lucky, “Very Confused.” I got out. I went to college and started dating a nice woman who was much smarter than me. She had grown up in a CITY, where she had ACTUALLY KNOWN gay people! She told me that everything I had been led to believe about gay people was incorrect. I think her exact words to me were something like, “What the fuck are you talking about?” I quickly realized that I had no idea what I was talking about, and I immediately began to question EVERYTHING I had “learned” in my tiny, all-white, “all-straight,” almost-all-Christian Connecticut hometown: “Hey Linda, I just realized something ... CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS WAS AN ASSHOLE!”

There has never been a time when “a boy was a boy, and a girl was a girl.” There have only been times when fearful, superstitious people made it unsafe for boys to be girls, and girls to be boys. 

I sincerely believe that so many cisgender Christian Americans are throwing a countrywide tantrum because they’re worried that they won’t be allowed to bully people anymore. I also believe that cisgender Americans are pretty sure that bullying is a God-given right that is mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. I think their thought process goes something like: “Oh, so we can’t be mean to people of color or women or gays because of ‘cancel culture’?! Well, let’s be mean to transgender people because there aren’t enough of them to fight back!” 

The Tennessee state Senate just voted to approve a bill banning transgender athletes from competing in middle and high school sports under their gender identity. That’s right, the ADULTS in the Tennessee state Senate passed legislation specifically designed to ostracize CHILDREN. God’s children. God makes heterosexual children, homosexual children and children who decide to transition to the genders that suit them. AND GOD LOVES THEM ALL. Less than 1 percent of United States citizens report that they are transgender. Targeting minorities is THE OPPOSITE of what Jesus preached.

FACT: The Bible says A LOT about people loving one another, and NOT A DAMN THING about sports.

Also, fuck middle and high school sports. For every success story, there are countless kids traumatized.

So your grandchild wants to be called “they.” And that brings up a lot of issues for you, “Very Confused.” It makes you scared that the order of “your” world is being upset. Well here’s the good news, Grandpa: God’s world has always been gloriously disordered, and ... IT’S NOT YOUR WORLD ANYMORE. It is your grandchild's world. Let it, and them, evolve.

“Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call

Don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the hall

For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled

The battle outside ragin’

Will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls

For the times, they are a-changin’”

—Bob Dylan, 1964

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