Defining Ourselves

I can’t speak for others, only for myself. Having said that, I admit that I have spent far too much of my life defining myself by the expectations of society, family and friends and less by my own moral standards and acknowledging who I am as a person. We all struggle with this on some level. We all want to fit in and be accepted. We all want to be loved. So we would be stupid to say that it is easy to “just be you.” Let’s acknowledge that this is far more difficult to do than it sounds

img_0191When I watch children, I’m in awe of their innocence and acceptance of others. Most children, if gender identity, sexual identity, race or religion were never discussed with them, would grow up believing that differences are to be embraced and each person is unique unto themselves. Don’t believe me? Just watch a playground full of kids under the age of 8. Almost every single one of those children could care less what color your skin is, what god you worship, who you sleep with or what clothes you want to wear. All they care about is who treats them well and who doesn’t.

Discrimination, society’s standards, the fact the certain differences make us less than others is something society teaches us. It’s something our families teach us. Discrimination and a lack of acceptance is purely an environmental factor. It has absolutely nothing to do with genetics.

I will fully admit that as an adolescent, I held some discriminatory beliefs. Growing up in the south and in one of the last areas of the country to desegregate meant that society taught me that racial minorities were inferior.  Homosexuality was bad.  Not living by the gender you were assigned at birth made you a freak.  And worshiping a different religion made you immoral.  These lessons were a part of my every day life and, at that time, I believed them.  Along with these skewed and blatantly wrong beliefs altering my value system for many years, it also limited my relationships with many wonderful people over time.

Thankfully, I got out of my hometown at a young age.  Thankfully, I learned different views.  Thankfully, I learned tolerance and acceptance of others.  Do I still judge people?  Of course I do.  I am guilty of this.  But my judgement is based on how others behave and how they express their values unto the world and others.

One blessing of working the health care system for over 20 years, particularly emergency medicine, is that you have no say over who you will be taking care.  Whoever becomes your patient or client becomes your patient or client and you cannot allow personal views to skew your treatment of these individuals.  This fact teaches you very quickly what differences matter and what differences don’t.

IMG_1860I have had to learn not to be defined by the standards of a society which has not concept of what it has been like to live in my body. Whether someone accepts my transition or not, it is impossible to explain to someone what it is like to look in the mirror and want to rip your skin off.  Most cannot understand how exhausting it is to force yourself to interact with a world in a manner which truly is unnatural for you.  Most cannot understand how the pitch of your own voice can literally make you nauseous.  The good thing is, I don’t ask anyone to understand it.

It’s impossible to understand being in my place unless you have been there.  This is the same as I can never understand the African-American, American Indian, Hispanic, South East Asian or any other racial experience because I have not lived it.  That does not mean I cannot love them as they are and support them every day.  I pray I have done just that for the past 20 plus years since I, hopefully, removed my head from my arse. lol

Funny thing is, nothing spurred these thoughts other than the first meme included in this post.  It speaks volumes to how we should view and define ourselves each day.  Thankfully, the world is becoming a more accepting place.  Thankfully, individuals like myself are finding more acceptance and less intolerance.  Thankfully, those who know me best, I feel, do not see me as transgender.  They see me as a woman, plain and simple.  To those friends who view me that way, you have no idea what your love and support means to me.

<3, Tiff

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