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I had a thought while I was working on replying to a thread on whetherwoman's journal.

What are the things that you think most define how you interact with the world? As an example, “I'm a woman” is particularly relevant in that discussion. What informs your reactions to the world?

I have a list that feels as long as my arm in my head.

I live in a small town, and I actively try to keep the good parts about small town culture alive wherever I go. I'm acutely aware of the amount of interconnection between people in any group, and I'm happiest when I can either be in an internally well-connected group, or one where I'm introducing people to each other.

I am a comfortable, confident, happy transsexual woman, who feels no need to play a game of “passing” as a XX-chromosomed woman. It affects nearly every interaction I've had in the past years. It's made my sex life, my love life and my body something that seems very public, and that people are quite willing to start a conversation on.

Within the queer, and especially within groups of transgendered folks, I find that my tendency to be calm, a peace-maker, and my willingness to be out without confrontation is distinguishing.

I'm a spiritual person, and I have a deep respect and interest to understand religious and spiritual traditions. In my teenage years, I'd taken my family's habitual bashings of all things Christian, and it left a hole in my willingness to understand people, to feel and to relate. Now I'm finding that I have more in common in my thought processes and feelings about things with the average religious person who really thinks about their faith than I do with the atheist liberal culture I grew up in. My own beliefs align relatively well with a lot of Quaker beliefs, and a lot of the traditions speak to me deeply.

I'm white, of a lower-middle class family. My parents have no college degrees, though they're very smart and well-educated.

I have cultural associations to Argentina, latin in culture and racially white.

I grew up in a family where taking care of things oneself was the normal way to do things. My father can fix most anything around the house. We never called a plumber, handyman or repairman for anything. We educated ourselves, we designed our house ourselves, we built our house ourselves. I've watched my father repair cars, roofs, sidewalks, computers, desks, faucets. My mother made a lot of our clothes when I was young. Asking for someone to do something for me is not something I think of first.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 26th, 2008 05:25 am (UTC)
Probably actually "I am a homeschooler" (when I was younger), or maybe "I was a homeschooler" (though this is fading fast, and that's a really weird feeling; I think college had a lot to do with that...you would think it would matter accutely there, but it's like it just sort of fades, because people come from all sorts of states and countries and have different educational backgrounds and no one is really talking about how you grew up, but more about what the latest assignment on Wednesday is and whether they were stupid to not remember it or not), or, "I am a Christian." I generally define myself by hippism in many manifestations, by family association, or by faith/tradition/part of the country. Perhaps I'm really not answering at all here. Maybe I'm being too open-ended. But my definintions are...dang, how can I explain it. OK, I've got it: the ones I'm most proud of are the ones I chose.

I like being a Midwesterner, a person of my particular faith, a grown homeschooler, etc. etc. I find the most fear in the things I did not choose. They can have the capacity at times to panic me. I feel more in control about where I chose to live, with whom I live, how I live, etc. I believe in feminism, but I don't always identify as strongly with a movement that I'm naturally part of by what I am than what I chose. Already said that, and I'm rambling. 'Night. -R.
Apr. 26th, 2008 06:02 am (UTC)
These days, "I am an immigrant" informs my reactions to the world around me more than anything else, really.

"I am a man" also comes into it quite a lot, though.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 26th, 2008 07:04 am (UTC)
That so very much did. It's interesting to see what different attributes people ascribe their worldview to.
Apr. 26th, 2008 08:38 am (UTC)
Hmm. Yeah, that thread (along with other conversations I've been having lately) made me think too.

My identify as a girl is one of the first things that I think of. Being queer comes close. Both of which I experience as an extra awareness, of subconsciously knowing how many people are in each room that I step into and what the quickest way out is. Taking an extra second before I say "my girlfriend".
Within the last few months, I've realized just how much other parts of my identity contribute to my reactions in ways I hadn't noticed before.
Being 3rd generation Mexican American.
Having been depressed for most of my adolescence.
Growing up in a financially unstable home, with parents who traveled and gave me dance classes yet didn't have health insurance until last year. Knowing that the only reason our family stayed in our house this year was because my mother went on government assistance has also lead me to realize that one of the reasons that I was able to handle AP classes this year, to gain that elitist experience, was because I didn't have to live through the stress and unrest of having to move. And then, I sit in the classes full of teens, who are not even cognizant of the privileges they assume everyone has, as they talk about government spending and "drains on the programs".

This is mostly rambling by now, but yes. Very interesting topic.
Apr. 26th, 2008 02:55 pm (UTC)
You identify as a girl, or as a woman?

This is a more major distinction than you might expect.
Apr. 26th, 2008 03:50 pm (UTC)
So very true. I even struggled in the edits to my original post whether to say 'girl' or 'woman'. It's only in the last months that the idea of thinking of myself as a woman has set in solidly at all.

It's strange to have a word that acknowledges any kind of maturity that way, and it's strange that we get to use it in contexts of our own identities.
Apr. 26th, 2008 03:56 pm (UTC)
You could, I suppose, dodge the question by saying that you identify yourself as "female", which skirts the maturity issue entirely.

For what little it's worth, I give you my (dubious, granted) accolade as a woman rather than a girl, but mainly because I acknowledge your adulthood in general rather than any specific gender-related thing.
Apr. 26th, 2008 06:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

And it's strange that there is such a distinction in our culture.

What comes to mind for you as the difference?
Apr. 26th, 2008 11:36 pm (UTC)
It's hard to put my finger on, but it's related to that quality, "lack of drama", and to your level of self-sufficiency, I guess.

As long as there is a distinction between children and adults, there will be a distinction between girls and women, though, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Childhood is the right time to be a child, and after you're done being a child, you have to be an adult.
Apr. 26th, 2008 11:54 pm (UTC)
Currently, I identify as a girl.
I chose girl deliberately because in a lot of ways, I don't feel like I've passed into being a woman. At eighteen, I qualify in most quantifiable ways, but I think it's going to take me a year or two before I am comfortable referring to myself as such (or at least, until it starts coming more naturally to my tongue.)
Apr. 29th, 2008 04:55 pm (UTC)
That makes a lot of sense, and it makes sense in the cultural bit I'm trying to figure out: There's a huge tendency for women to never become independent. A huge number of my friends flit from school and family to college to husband and never really live on their own. It's something more uniquely female, I think.

So many never really become women, and some it takes having kids to make them fight for the independence. (Having kids is such a kick in the ass. It's great to see some people who were complete flakes step up to the plate when they have a kid.)

Maybe that's why "boy" lasts until maybe 18 or 20, but "girl" seems to last until grey hair sets in.
Apr. 26th, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
Absolutely! Thanks!
Apr. 26th, 2008 11:53 pm (UTC)

"I am an introvert"
"I love to think, learn, and create"
"I find myself wishing that I possessed more empathy"


> In my teenage years, I'd taken my family's habitual bashings of all things Christian, and it left a hole in my willingness to understand people, to feel and to relate.

Strong rejectionism leaves one blind, unbalanced, and unable to relate to others.
Apr. 29th, 2008 04:55 pm (UTC)
It so does. That task, my methodical working on relating to people with a strong Christian mindset, has helped me relate so very much.
Apr. 27th, 2008 04:58 am (UTC)
dyke first and foremost
chronic physical/mental health problems
being single (especially at my age)
being a woman/genderqueer
also being "smart" and a lifelong learner
and that whole DIY insistently independent thing

all affect how i interact with the world

xo max
Apr. 27th, 2008 05:00 am (UTC)
Also, because I have been grading too many papers, I feel compelled to tell you that "I have a list that feels as long as my arm in my head" is a silly sentence, because you do not have an arm in your head (I hope), and perhaps that last clause would like to be moved to say that you have a list in your head.

Uh, so probably that whole writer thing influences my interactions too, ya think?
Apr. 29th, 2008 04:56 pm (UTC)
Yes. Quite!
Apr. 30th, 2008 08:03 pm (UTC)
That is inspiring. You're an amazing person.
May. 1st, 2008 05:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
May. 5th, 2008 01:50 am (UTC)
Is "I am me" an easy way out of it? *laugh*

I promise when I don't have to write a damned paper on Indian food in the UK I will write something substantial!
May. 5th, 2008 06:28 am (UTC)
Won't get you out of it!

But it's understandable. *hugs*
May. 6th, 2008 12:07 am (UTC)
Rats! Well, when I figure it all out, I'll tell ya. :)

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )