there are phrases not used as often in these days when people are trying hard to value things above and beyond ties of blood.
Kith and Kin is the most underused weapon in the arsenal of tools available to us in many ways, and it is the most powerful, the most effective one.
But what is Kith and Kin?
In its simplest terms, Kith and Kin means family in two different ways.
Kith meant tribe — in a more accurate sense, it means your Group Identity. The larger sense of self as part of something bigger.
Kin meant your family — not merely the immediate, but the extended from grandparents, and would shift and change accordingly.
LGBT Families struggle for recognition and validation for their kinship.
For LGBT or Queer people in the US, Kinship — which Kith and Kin speaks of — is something we are subject to having stripped from us, and all too often it is denied in any form that is possible.
And yet, we overlook it.
Kinship is essential to the human condition. Even though we supposedly cannot “choose our family”, we do, in fact, choose them, from among the people that we often have the closest connection with.
Just like anyone else.
And that bond, that familiarity, is called Kinship. When two people are not related by blood come together and form that bond, they are Kin to each other.
For quite literally hundreds of years, we were bereft of such a bond. even today one of the costs of coming out is the destruction of such a bond — we lose kinship — it is denied to us. In the middle of the last century, we began to gravitate towards central locations — to cluster by enforced circumstance in what even today are sometimes called gay ghettos.
In doing so, we were more able to form bonds, and to create personal hierarchies around us of family.
For kinship is what *creates* family. Kinship *is* family — your kith and your kin are your nation and your family, your people and your kind, your parents and your children and your siblings.
And we formed those ghettos because we were cast out of our own families, bereft of the kinship we had held, simply for being who we were. Left to our own, we found we could form such bonds within our own communities, and even there we’ve created our own, separate and elaborate systems of establishing and recognizing it among ourselves.
Kinship is without value if it is not recognized in the wider world, however. And this has long been established by some central authority — some agency which has held sway, be it a tribal council or state policy.
Kinship is formed only in a few ways. The one that people think of most often is the kinship bond of parents and their children. This bond comes in two flavors — birth and adoption. It is a hierarchal form of kinship, creating a bond where one is over the other.
There other form is when those two people pledge their troth — they agree to become a *new* family — part of yet separate from the other family. They would take a surname according to whatever group customs were extant, and then they would be *one* as a new family.
They became kin.
Cyning it was sometimes called in the culture from which our customs come in the US. Or, more often in the last several hundred years, it was called marriage.
The actins to deny us kinship — to deny us the very right to form and be a part of families, of Family — are heinous and terrible, and instead of arguing for *kinship* we argue for ne small piece of it, and in doing so lose the one argument that always reveals th truth about those who seek to deny us that state sanction recognition of our kinship: that they are anything but “pro-family”.
Family is an emotional argument, and will, more often than not, win out of the logic and passionless advertising we see.
We should argue what truly matters — our kinship — not what gives them the edge (marriage). In doing so, we will win what they are taking — and more. We will win adoption and co-parenting, and we may even win something infinitely more valuable, especially to trans folk:
Our ties to our past.
Many transfolk lose their families, immediately and irrevocably, when they come out. Others lose them during transition, leaving us sometimes somewhat adrift. This has benefits — we can pick up and move and often do without worrying about baggage or troubles.
But it also means we lose visitation with our children, and we find ourselves dumped into a divorce we never wanted.
This comes up in my mind because on a lark I did a search on Facebook, and found a sister whom I haven’t spoken to, really, since the death of one of my brothers. Right around 10 years ago. For the length of my transition, I have not had ties to my family, having lost half of it to that grim reaper before I started, leaving me sorta rootless in a lot of ways.
So I sent her an add request. I do not expect to gt a response (I’ve sorta changed dramatically), but what gets me is the why.
I want to have my kin again.
in the meantime, though, all of you are my kith. And I’ll enjoy that for the rest of my life.