Here’s an allegory that is also 100% true–this did actually happen, and it is continuing to happen.
For a long time–since at least age 3–I’ve realized I’m not of the same gender that other people around me were. I knew that I definitely wasn’t a boy like the boys I knew were, but I also knew I wasn’t a girl like the girls I knew were. This was confusing to me, certainly, because what I felt and what I was taught were two different things.
When I got older, I came to know myself more in terms of my own sexuality and gender identity, although I didn’t feel authentic or comfortable when it came to “redefining” what it was to be male, or to be female, to suit my own needs and wants and desires. It would be just as inauthentic for me to try to redefine those terms as it would be to simply accept them on the terms that they actually were presented to me as.
So, someone I knew suggested the term “metagender,” and I thought it was a good one, and as I understood it, it expressed what I felt was accurate and appropriate for myself.
The problem, of course, was that most people didn’t (and still don’t) know or understand what that means. So, that means I have to do a lot of explaining. Sometimes people accept it, and that’s great, and then we get along fine. Sometimes people outright refuse to accept it, and that’s unfortunate, because it usually means that I won’t have much more interaction with such a person. Sometimes, people forget and need to be reminded what this means and how important it is and what implications it has for pronouns in relation to me, and so forth–and I don’t mind giving those sorts of reminders, and nearly everyone has been very good about being reminded in those ways.
There are various ways to deal with the emergence of new realities. Sometimes, one can adapt old terminologies to new usages; unfortunately, what occurs in those situations is that the baggage of the older usages does not go away with the flick of a pen and the stroke of a key on a keyboard. There is nothing wrong with attempting to re-define and reclaim some words (especially when such words have often been used pejoratively, e.g. “queer”); but, there is also nothing wrong with adhering to older usages, because they don’t go away (something strange or odd can still be called “queer,” and some homophobes will still call us “queer” as an insult).
But, oftentimes, when a reality really is new and unprecedented, it deserves a name of its own that is completely new. Sure, not everyone may know the word from the start, but its usage can circulate and grow amongst those for whom the new reality is their frequent and daily reality. It’s not an easy road, but it’s a good road, and one that forces people to get creative. It is, furthermore, impossible for someone to tell you you’re “wrong” about how you’re defining a word that you’ve created yourself–even though people have sometimes tried to do that with me being metagender, it ultimately doesn’t work because they have no idea what they’re talking about. (That has only happened once, back in about 2002, when someone told me that I was performing my metagender identity wrong, when they had only heard the term “metagender” five minutes before and said “What in the hell is that?” when they first heard it.)
Yes, all of that happened. It’s also an allegory for polytheism, which comes with a suggestion. Think about it.