Written by Ash Ruaridh.
Photo by Ash Ruaridh.
I am not a man or a woman and my gender expression doesn’t make me into them! Here are the facts: My name is Ash. I am agender. I was assigned female at birth. I have hated my chest since it started to grow during puberty. I am getting top surgery in November to remove my chest, my whole chest, and nothing but the chest.
Here’s where it gets a little bit more blurry. While I am incredibly uncomfortable with my chest as it is now, attached to me and the size it is, to the point I regularly dissociate when looking at myself naked in the mirror, I aesthetically like how a chest (not my chest) would look in some dresses. This is not to say I want to keep my chest some days. I don’t. I have wanted top surgery every day for years now, every time I look in the mirror or think of my chest. I have been on the waiting list for surgery for two and a half years and have wanted surgery long before that. No. What I want is to be able to wear a padded bra or breast plate and be able to take it off after a few hours. To go back to my standard of a flat chest. To feel free. To feel me.
I am getting top surgery in November to remove my chest, my whole chest, and nothing but the chest.
Does this make me a woman? Of course not. We all know we are equal to more than the sum of our parts. I am not a woman simply because of my sexual characteristics, or because of my genitals, or because one doctor declared that I was female all those years ago on my birthday. All it means is that I want, aesthetically, to have boobs sometimes. It’s really as simple as that.
Now we come to lowers; I have recently discovered the joys of packing. Wearing something in my underwear to create the illusion of a bulge in my trousers. Why do I do this? Mostly because it makes me feel good and gives me gender euphoria (although, admittedly, it’s also a little bit to fuck with cis people). Does this mean I am a man? Heck no! I have never felt like a man, even in my most confused moments. I just want to look a certain way, just like with me stuffing a bra or wearing a breastplate. It’s a front. It’s an illusion. It’s gender expression, darling!
I want to be the most baseline, most comfortable, most me version of me there is.
This is the important thing, for me at least, I do this outside the house where other people will see me. I want this gender expression to be like a suit that I can put on and take off again. I want it to be like a second set of clothes. When I want to be the purest, most distilled, most true version of me there is, I can discard all of that and go back to who I am at my core. When I present a certain way I do it for the perception of others (although as many queers will agree, please don’t perceive me under any circumstances). When I come home, to my inner sanctum, to my place of refuge, I just want to be me. I want to be the most baseline, most comfortable, most me version of me there is. That is a flat chested, womb free, genderless person, free from the trappings of gender. I want to be nothing. I want to be agender. I am agender.
And here is where we come to the crux of the matter. Something I think people need reminding of painfully often. Gender identity is absolutely not the same thing as gender expression. You can express your gender however you want and it will not change that innate, beautiful thing called gender identity.
Gender identity can change, be in constant flux or a fluid state, it can stay the same throughout life, and can be as simple as ABC or as complex as string theory. Only you will have the words for it and if you choose to explain those words to others, then more power to you! What others do not have the license to do however is to give you words for your gender identity based on how you are looking or presenting or expressing it on a certain day or over any period of time.
You can express your gender however you want and it will not change that innate, beautiful thing called gender identity.
Your gender identity is your business to describe, no one else’s. And honestly? The next person who tries to take my surgery away from me because I want to wear (not have) boobs sometime after surgery? Or the next time someone suggests I may be a trans man simply because I like packing sometimes to fuck with their narrow minds? Well, they’re going to have one very fighty, very agender person on their hands.
Please don’t perceive me (as a man or a woman)
It’s gender expression, darling!
About The Author
Ash is a political activist (currently looking for work, please hire me) and agender person, currently living in The Capital of The Highlands, Inverness. They live there with all their knitting and sewing equipment, political opinions and dreams of future dogs. They dream of moving back to London one day and living off their aforementioned art and politics. Being published in Salty is a long time ambition of theirs and they are proudly a Salty Babe until death do us part.