Monday, April 16, 2007

Inner Reflection

I had an interesting question/comment from a non-TA (new!) friend. She noted that some of my other TA friends seem to identify more with their respective desired disabilities whereas I seem to exhibit less of an identity with Deaf culture and more with a desire to eliminate noise.

It's interesting because I was actually pondering this in the last week or two.

I seem to be following the same pattern that I did in my transition: I never really identified as a hyperfeminine person, rather, I identified as me! Marie (okay "Marie" is a psuedonym but you all get the idea). I don't know what it's like to be a woman and I don't know what it's like to be a man. All I DO know is what it's like to be me. At the time my physiology was out of sync with my brain's self-image. I saw transition as a process to fix what was wrong. I had set goals and I understood what was expected of me to achieve those goals. And I did. And I feel great in that respect.

Again, with my hearing I seem to have identified a flaw and a fix. The flaw is that I hear and the fix is to stop hearing. Simple, eh?

In the aforementioned conversation the topic of hearing aids came up. Surely as a person that wants to be deaf I wouldn't want hearing aids which would amplify sound? Well, that is quite the paradox. I've stated before (if not on this blog then in other areas) that I would use HAs to comprehend speech as needed. I also had a think on the concept of a deaf-wannabe wanting hearing aids. Hearing Aid. Aiding hearing... it's one of the things that can really hurt the brain to ponder! However I began to think back to transition and how I gripped to every miniscule feminine trait that HRT (hormone replacement therapy) was bringing as reinforcement of my identity. It seems to logically follow that hearing aids would again reinforce my identity and be visible proof to others that yes, I am deaf (or hearing impaired)!

So, do I identify as a D/deaf person? Well no I don't; I identify as me. I identify as female and feel exceptionally comfortable in this social role. I say this confident having lived in it for almost four years now. I think it would be premature to say that I identify as a D/deaf person having not experienced deafness. How could I have such an identity when I (alas) have had no common experiences? I feel confident today that in four years' time I would be willing to say that I identify as a deaf person (or Deaf, but that's more of a culture thing; integration into a culture is not an overnight thing!).

All in all the fact that I do not have a (strong) pre-existing identity with the Deaf world doesn't bother me as it didn't bother me 5 years ago when I began transition. I'm happy being me and I'm happy to make difficult and permanent choices in my life based on my own values, expectations, and goals.

2 comments:

Sean said...

A most excellent and thought provoking entry. Thank you Marie :)

Kyla said...

Interesting point to think about. In some ways I can relate to it. I don't really identify with an 'amputee community', and don't even really know any amputees in 'real life'. The extent of my interest in such a group would merely be in learning adaptive techniques - how to more effectively get on without the missing limbs. It's not a matter of being a member of a group (in my case, amputee; in your case, deaf) - it's a matter of being true to our own identity as individuals, and if that fits us into a group, sobeit.