Self-Awareness Moment: gaps in cultural experiences

I’m intentionally making this vague to be more relatable, and not potentially get dragged into a “you’re not ‘enough of'” type of debate with people who debase those of us with parents from different origins. There are 3 components to my cultural heritage of origin. 1/2 from my mum of origin, two quarters from my dad of origin.

At a recent family wedding on the side of one of the 1/4s of my heritage, I wore a very modern take on a traditional outfit. Notably it was in the wedding’s colours, and theme. Not something usually done, but the newlyweds aren’t usual either. I should mention here, my relative married someone from the same cultural heritage as him, so the ceremony was chiefly attended by people from that culture. My outfit was a hit with everyone, old and young alike, I’m happy with how that worked out.

One of the bride’s grand-mother, someone who has no reason to know my medical history, came up to make inquiries about my outfit, the modernity of it intrigued her. This led to her inquiring as to which elements of the culture my late grandmother had imparted on me. This woman was appalled. She couldn’t understand how my grandmother hadn’t taught me the basics of an instrument typically played by men, and none of their traditional dances. This grandmother of mine passed away before my transition.

Truth be told, I don’t think she’d have been supportive, but that aside a moment, what I was shown (but never felt compelled to practice to improve) were the traditional women’s dances. My dad’s not into dancing, period, it’s not a statement on his feelings towards my maleness that he’s not shown me these. He took me to get my 1st male traditional outfit for this 1/4 of my heritage some years ago.

I came across as someone with a dubious knowledge of this culture, due to dodgy parents. Not being much of a dancer myself, I won’t be exploring the possibility of lessons. I’ll explore expanding my extremely rudimentary knowledge of the instrument. I enjoy listening to it being played, but this incident made me aware that I hadn’t considered learning how to play it, because as a child, I hadn’t been considered someone who might take it up. None of my relatives consider it pertinent to fill in gaps in gender specific experiences and knowledge.

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