I took a Gender Studies class a few months ago and the first assignment was a 150 word essays on what your gender means to you. Upon reflection, being female alone did not impact me as much as being female and deaf as you will soon read.
I am female and I am deaf. I am deaf in a hearing world and to me that is analogous to being female in a male world.
Just as females used to disguise themselves as males to get jobs and avoid discrimination, I can almost disguise myself as hearing to blend in and interact with hearing people. It is hard. When I am hurt, or misunderstood, I most often blame my deafness rather than being female. Being deaf is not easy – there are so many more opportunities for miscommunication, misunderstanding for me than for most hearing people.
I believe being female has impacted how I view myself as a deaf individual. I describe myself as a silly little girl in my own head, not because of how I have been raised or how the world treats me, but it is how I feel with my own deafness. If I cannot hear someone, if I misunderstand, then immediately I withdraw into myself because I do not feel brave. I feel clumsy. I feel weak. Worse of all, I feel stupid. All of these are unfortunately associated with the negative stereotype of a silly little girl.
Sometimes I find the courage to break the stereotype and ask questions and clarify things; sometimes I do not. Either way, I feel like this can only be part of being human. One thing I have learned from being human is that even when the world seems most inaccessible to a deaf female like me I know that there is always an open door somewhere, I just have to find it. And I will!