GrokNation Impact: Aubrey’s Story

Exploring gender identity
By Esther D. Kustanowitz  Published on 12/29/2015 at 12:48 AM EDT

This letter was sent to us by a GrokNation reader, and edited for publication by the GrokNation staff in collaboration with the writer. We thank our readers in advance for treating the stories of your fellow Grokites with respect and sensitivity.

Hello to the wonderful runners of this amazing website/blog. I’m a very passionate and sensitive 22-year-old. My name is Alisha. Well, my birth name is. Recently I’ve been going by Aubrey.

For quite some time, I have been struggling quite intensely with my gender/gender identity. I became very overwhelmed with trying to figure out what it actually meant to be a woman or a man, which is what I think started my quest for figuring out if my body wasn’t the way it was meant to be. I starting subconsciously placing gender roles on the specific sex of humans and thinking that, maybe women can’t do anything a man can, or that maybe women can’t dress or act masculine but still be feminine. For some reason, I felt like it was a completely black and white area – no grey. I felt that the only way I could express any masculinity, was to either be completely gay (which I am not), or be a transman (which I also am not).

This website, specifically Mayim’s articles on women’s studies and feminism, has really put that grey area into better perspective in my mind. After reading endless posts from her on here to watching probably every interview she’s ever done, I’ve become a lot comfortable dealing with the fact that I am not, and never will be, like most females. She gave me a better understanding of feminism and the empowerment that comes from being born a woman and being female-socialized.

She makes such a wonderful point about a better world narrowing down to respect for everyone. I’ve rarely been respected by people who are male-socialized simply because I don’t look not act like a “typical female.” I’ve been called “dyke,” “queer,” and some worse names that I don’t feel are appropriate for this site, but I don’t feel ashamed of that any more. Being a woman, and in my case, a different-type/different-looking woman, isn’t something to be ashamed of. While this is not the case for most people who have felt their gender identity doesn’t match their body, this is only my experience. Trans-related issues are not something to handle lightly because there are many ways to identify. (Editor’s note: see our list of resources at the end of this piece.)

This site has opened my eyes to other issues as well.  While I don’t have plans on becoming a parent, I’ve noticed my peers parenting a lot more now. Most children, including myself, are brought up to act tough because this world is cruel and we have to be ready for the “real world.” We’re taught that crying isn’t okay because the world doesn’t care if we cry. But why not? There’s no reason that children shouldn’t feel protected and safe and free to feel the way they do. Children need to be heard. Mayim’s parenting demonstrates that amazingly.

I also did the digital detox challenge Mayim recommended – a 25-hour period with no technology – and I can honestly say I had the most amazing conversations with some of my favorite people. It was relaxing and my mind wasn’t worried about anything but those conversations. It was sincerely eye-opening.

I apologize for the lengthy message, but I need you guys and Mayim to know that you are sincerely making a difference and changing people’s lives. If I had not stumbled across GrokNation some odd months ago, I have no clue how different I would be right now.

Thank you so much, Mayim for using your platform for amazing things, and thank you to the GrokNation team for helping her get this information out. I am so appreciative for all of your existences.


Knoxville, Tennessee

Editor’s note: We at GrokNation know that issues regarding gender identity and sexuality are highly sensitive and that related language is often a personal preference. We’ve done our best to include correct or inclusive language, and are always learning more. Some additional resources on gender identity and sexuality:


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