1. My name is Ayda.
2. I was born in a remote village surrounded by mountains.
3. My ancestors have lived in the same village, for many generations.
4. Our traditions and culture, celebrated the seasons of nature.
5. I was taught that nature must be respected, and how to live in harmony with nature.
6. Growing up, I felt I was a child of nature.
7. Then, even though it upset my family, I moved to the city, because I wanted to see more, and be on my own.
8. There are many laws that must be followed in the city, so I joined a political party to pass better laws.
9. I also joined the church, and was taught the laws of morality.
10. My hope was that new political laws, and the laws of the church, would bring everyone more freedom.
11. Joining others in a political party and church gave me a sense of belonging.
12. It defined my new identity.
13. My views, beliefs, appearance, and activities reflected my new city identity.
14. After a while, I began to wonder if my city identity was preventing me from developing my own personal identity.
15. This concerned me, because I left the village to be independent so I could express my own views, and live my own life.
16. Back in my village, I shared a common ancestry, cultural heritage, and homeland with my people.
17. I embraced my ethnicity.
18. My character and the way I acted was typical of my people.
19. There was no need to try and understand me as an individual.
20. If someone asked why I was like this, or like that, they could look to the ways of my people for an explanation.
21. Had my move to the city really changed anything?
22. I asked myself if I had just traded my village identity for a new city identity.
23. I am not a race, a village, a city, a nation, or a gender, I am Ayda, an individual with my own views and choices in life.
24. My ethnicity and community do not determine who I am.
25. I created my own identity by building upon what I learned from nature and from society.
26. No one can fully understand me by looking to my ethnicity, politics, spirituality and being a woman.
27. They miss what it is that makes me an individual.
28. My individuality cannot be explained by something else.
29. It seems to be difficult for people to recognize personal identity.
30. People talk about individuality, but seem to lack a sense for what it is.
31. The most difficult to overcome is how people stereotype men and women.
32. Men see in women, and women in men, too much of the general characteristics of the other sex, and too little of what is individual in them.
33. In my village, my position in society was restricted to what is considered the natural role and needs of a woman.
34. It is better in the city.
35. As a woman, I have more opportunity to pursue my own interests, and go as far as my abilities will take me.
36. But when it comes to gay and transgender issues, people still debate what the “natural disposition" of a man and woman are.
37. No progress will be made on gender issues as long as we debate biology.
38. What lies in a person’s nature must be left for them to judge.
39. Each person must be allowed to decide for themselves what does, and what does not, conform to their nature.
40. Gay and transgender people are not treated as individuals, but merely as examples of a gender stereotype.
41. Some fear a social upheaval if gay and transgender people are treated as individuals with the right to make their own decisions.
42. But a society should be changed when the status of some is beneath the level of basic human dignity.