As a genderqueer and trans-masculine person, seeing other trans people being confidently themselves really helped Ash accept who they are, so they want to share their journey to help others. Meet Ash, on set at the Glow Collective shoot...
Why did you want to be a part of the Glow Collective?
I’ve been on such a journey myself, of self-love and learning to accept exactly who I am, and the skin I’m in, I know that seeing other people have that confidence helped me. So, I thought if I can do that for someone else, I’d really love to.
So, my personal journey - I identify as gender queer, I am trans-masculine and use they/he pronouns, and I came out last year but the process of getting to that realisation and coming out was long and difficult and complicated. But seeing other trans people being themselves and being out and proud and knowing exactly who they are, that helped me to find who I am and realise I can love myself exactly as I am. So, I wanted to join this campaign so I can maybe be that person for someone else. If they’re struggling, if they don’t know their identity, its ok to be exactly who they are, explore their identity, slowly come to terms with exactly who they are.
Can you tell us about your journey?
When I was a teenager, I kind of hated everything to do with my birth gender, I didn’t like being female at all. And I thought that was mainly because of internalised misogyny, that I didn’t like being a woman, because being a woman sucks sometimes in the society that we live in. So, I tried really, really hard to love being a woman and love femininity and everything that comes with that, and I kind of succeeded. I love femininity, I love feminine things, it’s kind of stereotypical but I love the colors, the fashion. I love everything to do with it, but that doesn’t make me a woman. Those aren’t the same thing. I realised that I couldn’t come to terms with that, I couldn’t be the gender that I was born as. It’s not who I was.
A lot of trans people experience something called dysphoria, and that’s the extreme discomfort and emotional pain that comes with having a gender that doesn’t match your assigned sex. Dysphoria can be to do with your physical body, it can be social, to do with the way people talk about you or refer to you, and this makes it really difficult to go through everyday life. Being who you are and coming to terms with that is really difficult. Especially since treatment is really hard to come by in the UK. I think as of last year there are nearly 14,000 people on the waitlist for the NHS to just see a gender clinic, of which there are only 7. You’re looking at a wait of 3 – 5 years, there’s not a single other area of healthcare in the country where the wait is anywhere close to that long. And on the other hand, getting help privately can cost an extortionate amount. There’s definitely a healthcare crisis for trans people in this country right now.
So, it’s sometimes a matter of survival as a trans person I think, that you learn to love yourself as you are first. For me that journey was very slow and I experimented with different clothes and different fashions and now I’m just so comfortable exactly as I am, even if I wish I could physically transition sooner. It’s important to try different things and then when you are ready to share, find someone close to you. I spoke to my best friend, I spoke to my boyfriend and then when I was ready I came out to my family. It’s because of their support that I can be here today and be so confident and be ok being myself, because I know they love me no matter what, they always want to support me and I’m so thankful for that.
Do you have any resource recommendations?
Personally, seeing other trans people being themselves, finding them on social media, seeing them live their lives, that was useful for me. Chella Man especially, is an amazing artist and activist and he helped me find the term genderqueer and come to terms with what that meant and how that could look. He has a great tedx talk available on YouTube on the difference between gender identification and presentation. Alok Vaid-Menon discusses gender-nonconformity and shares some amazing book reports of literature covering gender in fashion. There’s also a resource called the Gender Dysphoria Bible, which was written by a trans woman for trans people and that talks though every aspect of dysphoria. Some people don’t even experience dysphoria, so it explains why that is and what other signs there could be that you might be trans. It’s a really great resource and talks through different quotes of different trans people and their experience.
I think generally as a society we need to have these open conversations. Recently there’s been a movement of people trying to put pronouns in their bio, little simple things like that to help normalise it for trans people, which is great. Everyone can be an ally, there’s always something you can do.
Are you into skincare?
I love skincare, I think it’s because of my sister. She does blogging online and talks about skincare all the time! She gives me all sorts of stuff ‘try this cleanser you’ll love it.’ I think it’s because of her that I first became so interested in it. I’ve also struggled in the past year with really severe allergic eczema all over my face, neck and arms, so to get control of it I really had to do my research and put more time in to my skincare routine than I ever had before. Even now that my eczema has cleared up on my face and is only on my arms, I still like to put that extra effort in to my skincare because it makes me feel good!
Do you know your skin type?
Yes, I’m definitely dry and also sensitive.
What’s your favourite part of your skincare routine?
Probably moisturising at the end because I do have such dry skin. Its nice to really put that moisture back into the skin and feel it smoothen, it’s a little self-care moment.