Who am I?
This question has torn at my heart for most of my life. As early as I can remember learning about 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 for me to explain 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 on me before I was 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 that identity and how it would define my life experiences.
I want to emphasize that I have never quite made it past the confusion that was imposed on me through society’s expectations and gender norms, and here lies the reason for the title of this article. Indeed, 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, and this has made me consider myself as a social failure, a disappointment to society and my relationships. There is a common narrative about queer and trans communities which claims that we all supposedly hate our bodies and lived 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, or 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 would be considered a gender-fucked social failure, hence the title of this article and a driving consideration for me in making this blog. I was told who I was supposed to be and not only did I fail to meet that criteria but 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. We live in a society that labels me false and would shackle me within a prison of gendered stereotypes. Indeed, I am beyond bitter because I was never given a chance to define my own experiences, and I was never given the opportunity to discover my own identity and develop my own language to most accurately describe who I am; that was all forced upon me. So this begs the question, 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 Haigh, and I am a queer and transfeminine weirdo.
This might all sound self-deprecating but 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. Our society enforces rigid and imprisoning ideologies through a false dichotomy of two limited and gendered identities, man and woman. 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 false 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, or as a failure that deserves punishment. 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.