0003 Lakera 24: Neologism

Normally, we speak of coming out to someone, as in, "I came out as adopted to my friends" or "I came out as xenophilic to the pretty green kitty with the antennae and compound eyes." Used in this fashion, it means revealing a part of oneself that was previously unknown, and usually it implies that said fact would be considered socially problematic, if not legally questionable.

I believe it's time to coin a new idiom in the Lapinian Argot: coming out at. To come out at someone is specifically to use the revelation of this status as a conversational weapon. Consider the following cases:

    • A: Hey, B, I'm throwing a party, and I'm invting my coworkers as well as some friends. Want to come?
    • B (male, A's coworker): Oh, hey, that sounds great, A.
    • A: Awesome. Listen, there's this girl I know, C? I've been telling her about you, and she thinks you sound really cute. She's going to be there; want me to hook you up?
    • B: I really appreciate the offer, A, but I'm really not interested in girls.
    • S: I hate it when folks think they're better than others. That kind of arrogance really chaps my hide.
    • T (a Christian): I know what you mean. Humility is a virtue and all that.
    • S: Yeah. Like, all those religious types really bug me. Who gives those holier-than-thou types the right to dictate morality
    • T: As one of those holier-than-thou types, I think I can safely say you've just justified their opinion.

In the former case, the person doing the revelation appears to be making an effort not to be confrontational while still delivering the necessary information. In other words, A has come out to B as gay. In the latter, though, T uses the revelation of a strong personal faith in part to shut down S's commentary. In Lapinian Argot, we may say that T came out at S as religious.

The reason I draw this distinction is because I came out at one of my coworkers on Setya.

Now, normally I don't approve of conversational weaponry, and I try my best to be on my guard against deliberately locking people out of a debate, but every once in a while, it's good to know how to be able to use such techniques to one's advantage. Also, considering that the real meat of the discussion started when one co-worker tried to open a conversation about the stimulus package and the coworker I had to lockdown responded by chiding, "you mean the spending bill," I feel pretty good about having done what I did.

Anyone wanting the full story, feel free to ask, and I may post it in the comments, but the important part of the exchange is that we were having a political conversation outside of an office setting, and that at one point in the discussion, the subject of the HMO business model arose and I asserted that universal health insurance would be a step towards ensuring that profit margins didn't stop people from getting the care that their doctors prescribed for them. To this, my coworker retorted that he didn't have any problem getting his wife's medical costs covered by his insurance, and he insisted that people could always appeal any decision an HMO made to refuse payment for a prescribed treatment.

Now, I could've said a lot of things at this point. I could've gone into a discussion of pre-existing medical conditions and how hard it is for someone with a history of cancer, diabetes, or HIV to get medical insurance without a job. I could've talked about the forty-seven million Americans without health insurance. I could've talked about the plight of people who couldn't get work because of their medical problems and couldn't afford treatment because of their joblessness. I had a plethora of options open to me at this point in the discussion. One might even say I had a myriad, or perhaps even an embarrassment of rejoinders.

What I said was, "No insurance policy I've ever had as part of any job I've ever held would pay for my sex change, and a sane universal health insurance policy from the federal government would have to cover it as a legitimate condition with an ICD-9 or ICD-10 diagnosis and treatment process."

Then, having fired that volley, I proceeded to talk about the money spent out-of-pocket for therapy, the fights I had over getting my hormones covered despite my insurance company's insistence that they would pay for any drug my doctor prescribed. Finally, I argued that I had spent close to twenty-five thousand dollars on medical bills that any sane medical insurance policy would have covered, but that I had to spend myself because every insurance company encourages its customers to categorically exempt sex-change procedures in order to save a little money.

My coworker's response to this was, "I think we're going to have to agree to disagree at this point."

To the best of my ability to tell, there's no residual tension on my coworker's side of things. The other team members who were in the car who heard my statement have not followed up with any commentary. The whole matter seems to have come and gone, and I suspect at least in part it's a done deal now because pursuit of the topic would require him to revisit a political debate at work, something upon which most tolerance-and-diversity policies frown intensely.

I still had a minor freak-out last night about the possible fallout.

Now, however, that the immediacy of the incident is over, and I've had a good night's sleep, I think that despite the aggressiveness of how I said what I did, and despite "using my past as a weapon," I think I did the right thing. I engaged in a political and economic debate with somebody squarely in the conservative camp, I held my ground, I didn't lose my temper, I forced my opponent to resort to a conversational nuke to save face, and I was able to tell my coworkers about a part of my life of which I'm embarrassingly proud but about which I'm usually mpowered to say very little. Despite all of the possible future repercussions about not being a team player or about having committed a social gaffe... I feel good about the conversation.

Olly olly oxen free....

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