A Lesson in Gender and Identity

November 27, 2012 at 7:32 am | Posted in Life and Living | 2 Comments
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We are all born into certain assumptions.  We are born with the parts of a boy or a girl, the skin of our parents’ race.  We are designed to meet certain societal expectations.  The spectrums we are measured on are made simple.  Everything seems white or black in this simple world.

But alas, the world is not simple.  You can’t paint a little girl’s room pink and automatically expect her to connect with her femininity.  It is true that most people will connect with the gender they are born into, but life is not black and white.  There are many colors on the spectrums we are measured on.  But we are taught that it is this biology that assigns your gender.  So many may never even find the language to explain why they don’t feel right in their own skin.

So when my husband began talking about the transition of Lana Wachowski, who directed the Matrix Trilogy with her brother Andy, I was intrigued.  My husband, the movie buff, informed me that these directors, clearly incredibly accomplished contributors to the film industry, never did interviews, so when this announcement came, that made it even more interesting.  Lana was finally ready to give up her privacy for the greater good — becoming a voice for those struggling with gender identity.

I can honestly say that I personally have never felt a lack of clarity in my own gender or sexuality.  But I have a natural curiosity and desire to understand people who are different from me.  I have grown and continue to try to be open-minded and accept that the world as it was handed to me at birth is not what is seems, and in the differences I learn of from all of the people I meet, the world is, in fact, a much more colorful, and wonderful place.

Lana Wachowski recently shared her story at the Human Rights Campaign’s annual gala, where she received the Visibility Award.  I have watched her 30 minute speech several times, relating to her desire to fit in, to find her voice, to be seen for who she is.  I share the video of her speech with my readers because I truly believe that this woman, this hero, can touch so many people beyond the transgender community.  I believe that, if you remain open-minded, the possibilities are endless.  I hope that her courage inspires us all to not shut out people we don’t understand, not to hate those who are different, that we, as a society, need to be more welcoming.  That the human race is a broad spectrum that isn’t measured in black and white.  It is a beautiful rainbow with talented souls like Lana who make the world a better place.


How Well Do You Know Your Former Self?

July 7, 2011 at 7:32 am | Posted in Life and Living | 1 Comment
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When I was 13, I got my first email account.  As a teen, my screen name was very symbolic and teen angst — Pyro 143, because I loved fire and I love you (that’s what 143 stood for on a beeper — I love you).  I had this screen name for 8 years, but when I was 21 and starting out my career I decided to go with something more professional.  I set up a new account and transitioned slowly.

So over the weekend, my account got hacked and emailed every contact I had ever emailed — friends, every job I ever applied to, and even a former county legislator (sorry to anyone who received an email from me telling you about products that make you skinny and/or erect).  Totally worried that my privacy was being invaded, I went to change my password.

Truth be told. I had not changed the password on this account since I created it, but no worries. This is the first issue I ever had.  So I’ll just change my password and move on.

Until the security question stumped me.  There are only 2 or 3 questions I usually pick for this, but for some reason, I had gone off the normal path and posed this question: What is your favorite restaurant?

My favorite restaurant? From 7 years ago?  Believe it or not, I actually knew the answer. There was only one possible answer — my favorite hang out, where I made so many friends and memories — so I typed it in.  DENIED.

I was completely stumped.  I know exactly the frame of mind I was in, the stage of life I was at when I was 21… or did I?

So I sat back and thought about it for a while.  What else could it be?  Was I trying to stump somebody and ended up fooling myself?  Maybe it was a different restaurant? No, it couldn’t be.

And then it dawned on me.  I had a nickname for that restaurant. That has to be it!  And so it was.

And all was well.

Good try 21 year old, Dana.  Good try.

Defining Who We Are and What We Do

June 3, 2010 at 7:29 am | Posted in Career Moves, Life and Living | 5 Comments
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When you’re in grade school, what you look like and who you hang out with defines who you are.  Kids have a tendency to see things in very simple terms.  When you get to college, this gets a bit deeper – where you’re from, what’s your major, and what sports team are you a fan of (ok, so maybe that last one only pertains to certain fanatical states, but you get the idea).

In the real world, at least in America and other capitalist societies, you are very often defined by what you do for a living.  This goes back to our earliest ancestors whose last names were Blacksmith and Baker.

I work in the non-profit industry for a living.  I am a communications professional, and ironically enough, when I try to explain what this means to somebody who is unfamiliar with communications work, they have a hard time grasping it.  Why can’t us communications professionals define what we do to an unfamiliar audience?  We pride ourselves on reaching target audiences, the moveable middle, being wordsmiths that know how to talk about our company and our cause.  But for some reason, trying to explain what we do, day in and day out is an ongoing struggle.

For me, it is true that what I do for a living defines me — in some ways, at least.  I got into this field because I love to write. I love being creative.  I can’t draw, I can’t paint, I can’t sing, but I can write.  So that is my craft.  I am a literary artist who chooses to use my talent for the greater good.

Of course, what you do changes over time, and as you learn new skills you tweak your self-definition.  Writer with technical skills, who can do some design, some web, some PR, some this, some that. And over time what defines me will change.  One day, I’ll be an aunt, a wife, a mother, a grandmother.

Today, I am a communications professional.  I am also a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend, a friend, a woman, an advocate, a dog lover, a chocolate fanatic, a traveler, a blogger, and a human being.

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