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20+ questions about gender & sexual identity (pt. 2)

Continued from last Saturday: 20+ questions from my special niece for a middle school project she was doing.  Now answered after she began high school half a year later. (Hi, Mickey!)

  • How was your relationship with your father?
Thank the heavens I can use the present tense here. My dad, aka Pops, has, like my mom, always been my champion. And like her, always only to the best of his ability. In some ways I think he has been capable of understanding my gender variance a bit more empathetically than sympathetically, which is the best my mother could get to.  Even then, she was only partway through the process of knowing who I was as an adult before she died.  While my mom was an atypical woman, it wasn’t her gender or sexual identity that made her atypical. I think this is a tad more the case with my dad.

Also, he always has, and continues to invite and delight in lengthy philosophical conversations about society.  He has taken an interest in conversations about gender and sexual identity for as long as I’ve been willing to have them with him, and I think I was a way better Intro Women’s Studies teacher as a result of the hours I’d spent trying to make elemental cases for my dad.  At ninety, in many ways he’s still a very open, curious person. Even if strong and complex feelings confound him.  As they do many.

  • Did you feel different from your peers as a child?
No, but then again, boys in the neighborhood and the occasional scrappy girl were the people I considered peers. I had years and years of youthful refuge in the socially acceptable gender space tomboy. There’s a word for the kind of gal I felt myself to be; people know it; it’s not automatically pejorative. Only hitch was, it was time-dated to expire at the onset of puberty, at which point I was supposed to become a proper girly-girl, interested in boys that way. That’s where I began to feel like a weird imposter. Since I tried to fit in, conventionally, ’til I got to my first year or two into college, where I found a lot more elbow room again.

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20+ questions about my gender & sexual identity (pt. 1)

{Ed. note: As one mechanism for staggering through National Blog Posting Month (did anyone notice I stumbled on Thursday? good! didn’t think so! out sick that day!), I’m going to root around in my COPIOUS  unpublished draft file and try to finish the ones that have withstood the test of time. }

About a million years ago, I received a series of questions for a middle school project from Mickey, one of my special nieces. “Special nieces” being the daughters of my friends, one of whom is one of my oldest continuous friendships, dating back to September 1980, the other of whom is her former spouse and the donor chum and thus special uncle to our children (more on extended familial nomenclature here). The whole family, thanks to the bond we’ve forged with love, trust, and biology, is more than special.

But so! Way back when, I told her I would try to answer them all, and since she is internet-savvy (what person over the age of 12 isn’t these days?), and knows I write here (for better and for worse, I’m sure!), I asked what she thought about my answering via a post, so as to have the whole conversation get wider. She liked the idea, and said she would link to my reply in her Tumblr site. So! Hey, Mickey! Here! Months upon months–indeed, a whole school later, ya big ole high schooler–below are my replies to your questions:

  • Where did you grow up?

The suburbs of the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area.

  • How big was your family as a kid?

Four people: a mother, a father, and a sister. We didn’t see the extended part of it very often during my growing up years, so it felt pretty “nuclear,” for all intents and purposes. Even if I knew there were others of our clan somewhere a few hours or states away.

  • What gender do you identify as?

Female.

  • What is your PGP (Preferred Gender Pronoun)?

“She” is totally fine by me, but I am never disgruntled when people read me as a he, and only “correct” people  if our exchange goes on and on and I figure eventually they’ll get embarassed if they all of a sudden realize they initially got it “wrong.” On a recent trip to New York I counted well over a dozen references to me as “Sir,” and was quite tickled. I consider it a sign I’m dressing smartly.

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20 questions for: Amie Klempnauer Miller (1 of 2)

I had the great good fortune of chatting yesterday afternoon with Amie Klemplnauer Miller, author of She Looks Just Like You: A Memoir of (Nonbiological Lesbian) Motherhood, published this spring by Beacon (and reviewed last month by Dana at Mombian). It is the first full-length memoir about non-bio lesbian motherhood. Amie will be doing three readings in the Bay Area this week:

    • Books, Inc.
    • 2275 Market St., San Francisco
    • Tuesday, June 15 at 7:30pm
    • Laurel Bookstore
    • 4100 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland
    • Wednesday, June 16 at 7:00pm
    • Youth Radio
    • 1701 Broadway, Oakland
    • Friday, June 18 at 7:00pm

I met her several years back when we both did a Twin Cities reading from our essays in Harlyn Aizley’s Confessions of the Other Mother: Nonbiological Lesbian Moms Tell All. Back then, over a gracious home-cooked dinner for me and mine at her home, she said she was at work on a book. And dadgum it she wasn’t kidding!

This afternoon, over a measly chocolate chip cookie, not at all baked by me and served up in a café all the way across the bay from my home, we chatted for over an hour. I’m so loathe to edit it down that I’m serving it up in two parts. Here’s the first:

LD: You’re very frank, emotionally (in the book). How did you negotiate what things to write about and not write about? Given that the story begins with the pain (of your conceding that you wouldn’t conceive)?

AKM: Some of it is the way it was written I wrote it as I experienced it, for the most part. So I was not coming back three years later and reconstructing. I started writing it as a journal when I was trying to get pregnant. And that kept growing, and I realized it turned into an essay. And then I realized it was becoming a chapter. So it kept going.

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