There’s no such thing as me

There’s no such thing as me

There’s no such thing as me

Aisling Arnould

There’s no such thing as me—or at least, there wasn’t. I never really had the chance to figure out who I was on my own terms. I always had to be who people thought I was, or perhaps who they allowed me to be. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember, but especially so since I came out as trans about a decade ago.

That was tolerated, I think, in large part because it was my only form of deviation. I could be a woman if I wanted (although never ‘female’), but that was okay because I was still straight and, at least implicitly, endosex. At the queer organisation where I work, there was even a running joke that I was the token diversity hire, our concession to heteronormativity. 

With that in mind, you can well imagine my surprise the morning after my gender affirmation surgery when the surgeon mentioned, almost as an aside, that I had some ‘biologically female traits’.

So, was I intersex? Well, maybe. Long story short, I might be, but there’s no way to know for sure.

It took me a long time to figure out what to do with that information. I knew from my intersex colleagues that being intersex is something you are, not something you identified as, and I thought that without a formal diagnosis I wouldn’t be intersex enough to enter. I suspect also that I’d internalised the idea that the intersex community was bound together by trauma rather than anything else, and that was trauma I didn’t share.

Against my expectations, when I finally told my colleagues they said simply “amazing!” and “welcome”. They pointed out that although many intersex people had suffered medical interventions, that wasn’t a universal experience, and that amongst all that trauma I shouldn’t forget about intersex joy. It was the support and encouragement I needed to take my first tentative steps down the yellow and purple brick road.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel like a fraud in intersex spaces, and though I am assured the feeling is ill-founded, I don’t think it’ll go away anytime soon (although I’ll never turn down a chance to be stage crew rather than cast). I still haven’t told many people beyond my close friends—in part because I think some people will take me being intersex as somehow making me more ‘legitimate’ than endosex trans folks—but it’s nice this time around to be able to tell people who I am in my own time and in my own words, not as a confession of shame, but as a declaration of pride.

I think the challenge now is for me to draw all the fragmented parts of myself into a coherent whole. Finding out I was intersex was the push I needed to re-evaluate, well, lots of things. My march through the acronym continues, since in addition to not being cis or endosex, it turns out I’m also not straight. It’s a lot more flags to add to my email signature, but for the first time I can remember, I actually get to decide who I am on my own terms.

I am queer. I am trans. I am ace. I am intersex. And yes, I am female. But above all, I am me.

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