As I sit here poolside in sunny Florida I can’t help but reflect on my past experiences focusing on three incidents which provided significant transitions that have influenced my identity and my goals. First, I would like to introduce my mother, Sheila Ann Jobe. A remarkable woman, she was a single mom, working and going for her bachelor’s degree in Social Work at Empire State College in New York. It was during the late seventies that as a child I watched her studying late at night or writing papers on an old typewriter. There were times when she could not locate a babysitter and I would tag along to her classes. One class I can recall was taught by the now famous, sex therapist Dr. Ruth Wertheimer. The setting, the environment, the reading of papers then discussing them hooked this thirteen year old girl. I wanted to participate in this group setting and write and research too. My student identity and social identification was formed as my desire to learn increased. My mother instilled in me the importance of education and to feel empowered with every piece of new knowledge. My goal was set for a bachelor’s degree and I had a few years to figure out what my concentration was going to be. My mother passed over before I graduated with my first bachelor’s degree. I know she was looking down the day I held my diploma. I graduated as a lifelong learner.
The second experience that provided significant transitions that have influenced my identity as well as, my goals was the introduction of Dennell into my life when I was fourteen. He is my big black brother by heart who is five years older than me. My mother had been counseling him in a wayward home for children. When he turned eighteen the agency gave him fifty dollars and asked him to leave. She invited him into our home and he became family instantly. As he was trying to find his roots and place in life he took me on his journey. He introduced me to Harlem, the seedy side, and the black culture. I learned from him and the stories he told of racial tension and discrimination. It was the narrative theory that helped me understand his world. It was then I became aware of my sociocultural identity and a need to fight for the rights of minorities.
Finally, my third experience that provided significant transitions that have influenced my identity and goals was my marriage and divorce to a transgender man, FTM. It began by my meeting a woman, falling in love and being by her side as she transitioned into a man, physically and legally too. I was there for both top and bottom surgeries helping her heal and giving her testosterone shots weekly. I began the relationship labeled as a lesbian and due to our marrying was considered a straight woman in society’s eyes. What I didn’t expect was how my feelings and needs had changed transforming my identity. I was now labeled pansexual as I followed my heart and not gender. Being part of the LGBTQQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning) community as a lesbian was one thing, but then I was surrounded by transgenders and their lifestyles. I was learning about gender, what it means to society, and how it can change. I found myself studying and joining groups regarding transgenderism and asking questions. I wanted to know more and found my goals leaning towards wanting to teach others the meaning of gender and how our society is not part of the binary system, but is multi-gendered.
In conclusion, through these experiences my self-identity had transformed me into the person I am today. Maslow’s (1970) humanistic approach helped me to make sense out of my life story “…the concept of “self-actualization,” which he described as the full use and exploitation of talents, capacities, potentialities, etc….He identified a number of characteristics of self-actualizing people, three of which are tolerance for ambiguity, acceptance of self and others, and “peak experiences” that lead to personal transformation through new insights. My anticipation for the future is teaching, enriching adults with knowledge that empowers them and to help them in meaning making of this complicated world in which we live.
Hiemstra, R. & Brockett, R. G. (1994). From behaviorism to humanism: Incorporating self-direction in learning concepts into the instructional design process. Retrieved October 4, 2013, from http://www-distance.syr.edu/sdlhuman.html
- Me – A Lifelong Learner (greeneyezwinkin2.wordpress.com)
- Sexual Identity Development (greeneyezwinkin2.wordpress.com)