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I recently have been feeling a lot of pressure in my life to act a certain way based on the gender roles, and cultural expectations that I experience as a woman, as a Lesbian, and as an individual. I really have not been enjoying the boxes and the separation of my experiences and expectations placed upon me depending on the situation I am in. I have short hair, and many people label me in ways that are not who I am. I also get put in a tough box, the masculine box, the insensitive box. In other spaces and sometimes within the same space, I also get placed in a very feminine box. Where I face daily feminine competition, where appearances and my weight are more important than my skills and my knowledge, where it is hard to get males to listen to my ideas, where I am too emotional, or incapable because I am a woman and my experiences and perspective get disregarded, and ignored.

My main question is why do others choose to put me and others in a box. Stereotypes are important to help us have a frame of reference, but they are not the standard for the human experience. Assuming that individuals fit in certain ways can be helpful but we have to understand that we have individuality and a variety of ways we express ourselves. An interesting biological fact: I did receive 23 of my chromosomes from my father, and I also received 23 of my chromosomes from my mother.

Yes, my masculine traits do appear more prevalent on first assumption and appearance, I have short hair, I have a very literal brain, and I am a very solution oriented thinker, but this does not mean that I am not a female or that I do not also have equally important feminine and masculine traits. I am actually a very emotional person, I go through different phases of emotions and experiences, I am also a very compassionate person and I strive to be tender hearted and kind. I also do care about myself, and I seek to have and keep a compassionate and giving heart. I am great at working in the yard as well as cleaning my house. But these gender roles do not define what we are capable of being, or capable of feeling, and capable of becoming.

I think the hardest concept for me to grasp within myself has been that this space is not black and white and I do not have to solely rely on my masculine or feminine traits, as they are two sides of the same coin. I can balance and accept and know who I am in terms of myself and in terms of what I believe is what I want the basis of all of actions to be, which is loving others unconditionally, and also making sure that my choices and actions do not ever take away an individuals right to believe and be themselves, particularly if their actions are not taking away another persons ability to choose how they want to live their life.

Gender is not a black and white concept and I know that it is hard in American culture to understand the concept that in other cultures and countries that they have non-gendered ways of communicating with others, and I think that in some ways it helps us categorized others but it also limits our ability to understand others. I believe that to really understand others, to really see that they are who they are I must be willing to look past the perceived notions and find out who they are past their cover. Because we all know that we can never judge a book by its cover.