Who am I?
This question has torn at my soul for most of my life. As early as I can remember understanding the notions of gender expression, identity and sexual orientation, I have been plagued with confusion about where I belong in the world. It’s important to note here that my confusion was not of my own making. I have never felt as though my experiences as a queer and trans person have ever been supported or validated within our society. Instead, upon birth a doctor assigned me with a very specific identity based on nothing more than the appearance of my genitals; an assumption that was intended to enforce strict gender stereotypes before I was ever cognizant enough to decide these things for myself. In essence, I was coercively labelled a man before I was even able to comprehend the definition of the term man and how it would define my life experiences.
I want to emphasize that I have never quite made it past the confusion imposed on me through society’s limited expectations and gender norms. Herein lies the reason for the title of this article, because I’ve constantly lived with the inner turmoil of being unable to adhere to the unrealistic standards of a limited gender binary of man and woman. As such, I have considered myself a social failure; a disappointment to society and my relationships. There is a common narrative about queer and transgender communities which claims that we all supposedly hate our bodies and experiences, and while this is inaccurate for many within our communities, there are some of us who struggle to find self-acceptance. In many ways, I still view myself as a social failure; as someone whose existence is considered an insult to what people see as the social norm, the status quo, and a threat to the dominant expectations of gender, expression and sexuality. I’ve been forced to seriously question my identity at every single turn in my life, all because some doctor decided that I would have to meet specific criteria based on nothing more than the fact that I was born with a penis and testes, and that this somehow says anything about who I want to be in life or how I want to define my experiences in this world.
So according to society I am a gender-fucked social failure. I was told who I was supposed to be, and not only did I fail to meet that criteria, I rejected these expectations with every fiber of my being. Do I sound bitter? Does reading this make you feel uncomfortable, as though everything that you were taught about gender and sexuality was a lie? Welcome to my reality in a world that labels me as false and would shackle me within a prison of limited gender stereotypes. I am beyond bitter because I was never given a chance to define my own experiences. I was never given the opportunity to discover my own identity and develop my own language to most accurately describe who I am. So who am I? Since I am a social failure, then what is my place in the world? Well, let me introduce myself. My name is Ashe, and I would describe myself as a transfeminine queerdo. See what I did there? How I combined queer and weirdo? Well, that’s how I see myself.
This might all sound self-deprecating and that is kind of the entire point of this article; to explore and understand my own struggles with self-acceptance in a world that denies the existence of my identity and experiences, and labels me as false. We live in a society that enforces rigid and imprisoning ideologies regarding a dichotomy of two limited identities; men and women. We conflate gender, sex, and sexuality as one and the same while upholding rigid ideologies regarding what it means to be a true man or woman; the expectation that everyone desires a heteronormative and procreative monogamous long-term relationship. Anyone that falls short of these rigid expectations is labelled perverse and deviant; a failure that deserves punishment. But the reality is that non-binary identities and experiences exist, and some people have polyamorous and queer sexual desires. I am one of those people. I don’t fit society’s expectations, and I doubt I ever will. So I take empowerment in the fact that I am a gender-fucked social failure.
I am proud to be me.