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Interesting Self-Examination Questions....

Heather Shay

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  • [Think about your childhood] How was I expected to behave because of my gender?
  • How have my parents, family members, classmates/peers, and romantic interests influenced my beliefs about gender?
  • How did I come to define my gender identity? (Do I remember deciding what gender I related to most?) 
  • How do different identity markers such as race, ethnicity, ability/disability (e.g. able-bodied, etc.), body size, socioeconomic status/class, sexual orientation, spirituality/religion, or other identities, influenced my gender identity? (e.g. ethnicity’s influence on masculinity/femininity; religion’s influence on binary gender norms, etc) *use any or all that may apply 
  • How have I benefited from adhering to gender expectations/roles?
  • If I did not behave according to gender expectations/roles, were there any consequences?
  • Do I experience stressors related to my gender identity?
  • Have I experienced fluidity regarding my gender identity? (e.g. someone identifying as female and engaging in male-dominated sports or wearing men’s clothing)
  • Has my gender ever been misidentified (e.g. attaching my voice to a different gender; assuming my gender just by learning my name)? How did that feel?
  • How have I contributed to reinforcing binary gender socialization? (e.g. making jokes, participating in gender reveal parties, imposing traditional gender norms on my loved ones, etc.)
  • Do I use he/she, men/women in my writing and verbal communications as a catch-all way to describe “everyone?” Why?
  • How do I feel about being asked to use or corrected to use non-binary pronouns (they/them etc)?
  • When a person challenges society’s binaries in any way (e.g. with appearance, speech, by advocating for non-conforming gender identities, etc.), how do I feel? What automatic reactions does this evoke?
  • When I meet or come across a Trans or gender non-conforming individual, do I treat them as I would treat a cisgender individual (person who identifies with the gender assigned at birth)? If not, what is different for me?
  • What feelings arise when I see non-binary/Trans individuals displaying affectionate behaviors with another person (e.g. kissing)? Expressing sexuality (flirtatious, provocative behavior)?
  • What assumptions do I make about a person’s mental health when I learn they completed sex reassignment/gender confirmation surgery? Do I assume they will eventually change their mind?
  • Have I assigned traditional male/female names that match the biological sex of my pets? Why? Do I socialize my pets based on gender (e.g. pink collar for a girl)? Why might it be important to me that a person be able to identify the gender of my pet?
  • Have I assigned traditional male/female names that match the biological sex of my baby/newborn? Why? Do I socialize my baby/newborn based on gender (e.g. tape a pink boy to baby’s head)? Why might it be important to me that a person be able to identify the gender of my baby/newborn?
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Interesting post @Heather Shay. I've often asked myself questions like these a lot, and sometimes incorporate them into my real-life conversations when applicable. Such behaviors and notions of masulinity and femininity have been imprinted on us for many generations and as I see our world steadily changing, I wonder why is there such an uncomfortable need to keep a binary. Gender and sexuality is fluid: why can't we express ourselves, love ourselves and others, without fearing we might offend someone or feel we ourselves are doing something morally wrong? Why is there such a need to be one way when there are many paths available?


Again, thank you for sharing. These are some great, thought-provoking questions.

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As a relatively new parent some of your questions about how parents and childhood affect us have been interesting to watch. 

When we announced that we were having a boy to family. My dad immediately got excited that he could dust off his model trains. It was like he didn’t realize he could do the same if we had a girl?


At only two months old I found my mother-in-law holding our son at our front window pointing to trucks going down our street. Would she have done the same if we had a girl? Maybe, but I doubt it. 

At 4-6 months my father-in-law was playing with a football with our son. Now he probably would have done the same with a daughter, but who knows. 

When shopping for clothes for out little one we look at both the boys and girls sections. A big proportion of girls clothing is pink and the vast majority has frilly/lacy/flowery accents on it. Why is there no pink in the boys section? Why does all the girls clothing have hyper-feminine accents?


All that to say that gender norms start influencing us before we’re even aware of it, to some extent they influence us before we’re even born. 

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Interesting set of questions.  My childhood was religiously and culturally Orthodox.  Strict ideas about what a woman should be.  I got in all sorts of trouble when my parents figured out that I wasn't becoming the sort of person they had anticipated....


I tend to believe that God intended gender to be binary, but I recognize that the world has turned out way different from how He planned it.  I'm not exactly sure where on the gender map I'm supposed to be, but I'm not totally boy and I'm definitely not girl. 


The kids in our family....my husband raises them very definitively as sons and daughters.  But he is raising them without strict gender roles like "women do the cooking" and that sort of thing.  My GF is extremely un-feminine, and her kids are being raised like little warriors.  Her oldest daughter isn't even old enough for elementary school, and clearly prefers playing with toy guns and pickup trucks and tools.  I find it cute that she's so much like her mom.  The kids seem to accept that I'm sort of in the middle between girl and boy, and don't really ask much about it. 


The pets have boy and girl names, and one of the girl cats has a very pink collar.  But it matches the cat's personality.  The oldest girl cat chooses her own things, apparently.  I wonder how society got the "blue is for boys, pink is for girls" thing going in the first place?  And it definitely changes by culture.  Hispanic men in my area, for example, have no problem wearing pink shirts or pastel colors.  My husband has a rose-pink shirt and a very bold fuchsia one that he'll wear under a white jacket in the summer, and it is perfectly acceptable. 


My biggest question is:  As I change my body more toward the masculine, do people assume that my gender expression has to change as well?  I don't really desire to *behave* in a more stereotypically masculine way, to change my voice, or much else....  I just want my body to fit me.  



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