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Letter: Being left-handed is okay now, and there's a lesson in that

Devout Catholics who used their left hand to make the sign of the cross were considered blasphemers. My own grandmother, who spent most of her youth in a Catholic orphanage, was punished when she tried to do tasks with her left hand.

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It wasn't so very long ago that being left-handed was equated with being a sinner, the left hand being the one of the devil. It was common to restrain a child's left hand so that they would learn to be right-handed.

Devout Catholics who used their left hand to make the sign of the cross were considered blasphemers. My own grandmother, who spent most of her youth in a Catholic orphanage, was punished when she tried to do tasks with her left hand. She always felt she had been born a lefty, although she was forced to identify as being right-handed by her upbringing.

Fast forward a few years. When I was a kid, I knew at an early age that I was born left-handed. By this time, being left-handed was no longer a "bad" thing, but I still felt like an "other." Many tools of that era were still only usable if one used them in the right hand, the most notable in my memory being scissors and vegetable peelers.

Each first day of school, in elementary school, I waited off to the side while my peers were busily filling their desks with their supplies, while the custodian searched for the seemingly only left-handed desk in the entire building (they had armrests that jutted out, most of them on the right side). Although I was not persecuted for being who I was born to be, I still was a minority who had to adapt to living in a right-handed world.

Most people are born righties. They know from an early age that is part of who they are, and that they were born that way. Historically, that was the only "right" way to be. (See? Even our language is biased).

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But guess what? Some of us are born lefties, and we are just as sure of who we are from an early age. Because we are no longer forced to conform to right-handedness, there appear to be more of us every year. The truth is not that more of us "choose" to be lefties, but that we are now free to be who we truly are.

In addition to those binary little boxes of handedness, some people are at ease using either hand, being ambidextrous. Some even have the audacity to have mixed handedness, perhaps playing guitar right-handed, yet batting as a southpaw when playing baseball.

At this point in time I must ask you, does it matter to you whether family members, friends, co-workers, students, clergy or members of your community are left-handed or right-handed? Can you see past their preferred hand to see other wonderful traits they have? Do they harm anyone by using one hand versus the other?

If you do not see what the title of this piece has to do with the text, I ask you to examine your feelings and opinions about those of sexual orientation or gender identity that differ from yours, and re-read it.

OK. I'm done. I feel better and I hope you do, too.

Related Topics: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
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