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This research is about exploring normality – what is it really? Wherever we look, we see confusions and discrimination about it.

Our cultures have fostered some divisive ideas about many human characteristics from 'race' to intelligence to gender and sexuality. We know the scientific evidence says that the nature does not work on dichotomies, binary differences or categories, but rather is extremely diverse with points on a continuum. This is also shown by genetic studies. However, this is still disputed by some.

Behind the survey is a view that all variants and degrees of skin colour, disability, sexuality and gender, as well as differences in abilities, are normal in nature and it is really time we started to accept this viewpoint and do a better job of ridding our cultures of discrimination.

In the same way as not many people see themselves as totally white or totally black, I have a hunch that many more people than suspected do not see themselves as totally female or male as the biological dimension, or totally feminine or masculine as the cultural dimension.

We also know very little about how these continua are experienced by so called 'normal' everyday people in their everyday lives. The survey is, therefore, designed for everybody so we may be able to assess the extent to which normality is really diversity. From this we will be able to assess the degree to which the binary categories, and stereotypes, still operating in our societies, are far from reflecting the reality of many lives. If some people really understood how diverse reality is, they may not treat obvious differences so negatively.

Major strategies to rid us of discrimination and bigotry have, so far, concentrated mainly on campaigns designed around one feature at a time such as skin colour. While we are making slow progress, a more productive strategy may be to focus on normality rather than what are seen as divergences from it. With a solid body of evidence that diversity really is much more widely present than realized, we may be able to redirect campaigns and arguments for tolerance. 

Many of the questions here have been proven to be reliable indices of quality of life and satisfaction with it. Taken together they should be able to throw light on problems some people may be facing and whether they can achieve their potential.

The analysis of the data will be systemic and multivariate so it will be able to throw light on some of the reasons for the answers that participants will provide. It will also be possible to pull out particular groups of characteristics and explore their implications in more detail. We will also be able to compare groups with different experiences. Hopefully we will be able to shed some light on the real side of 'normality', and in this process help to dispel a few more myths.

The survey tries to walk a fine line between respecting the different forms of language of a diverse group of people and the understanding of many people of good will who are not particularly aware of such language. I hope you can find a few minutes to complete it from your own point of view while understanding these difficulties and also, please pass it on so others can also complete it. In this way we will get a good international sample.

Thank you,

Merrelyn Emery

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