ASH

Charlotte, NC

*These questions were answered via email.

Do you think anything about the way you were raised or where you grew up affected how you drew conclusions about your identity?

I think growing up in a Baptist household made me think that gender diversity was problematic.

Can you give any examples of misconceptions people have about those who identify outside the binary?

People think that all of us are binary trans people. People have a hard time understanding non-binary and gender non-conforming identities.

Have you personally dealt with them?

Yes.

In your own words, how would you explain that gender identity is different from sexual orientation?

I would say sex is assigned and chosen gender is expression of true self, to keep it simple.

How do you feel represented in media and society at large?

I don’t feel represented in the media as a GNC [gender non-conforming] person. I see a lot of white people being legible as GNC.

What improvements would you like to see happen inside your communities, and in society at large?

I would like to see self-determination for trans people of color.

Who in your life do you feel you can trust or depend on?

My chosen family — 4 trans women and 1 trans man.

How has your identity played a role in your relationships, romantic or otherwise?

My identity makes my relationships difficult. My partners who don’t already consider themselves queer have a hard time understanding that by being in a relationship with me, our relationship is inherently queer.

Are you able to find adequate medical care?

No.

What are your pronouns?

They/them.

Where do you work?

Sistersong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective.

Do you have any hobbies or special interests?

Dance, organizing, building things.

What do you do for fun?

Dance, read.

How do you handle the issue of pronouns and being gendered when interacting with strangers / mixed company / etc?

If I feel safe enough, I correct people when they get my pronouns wrong. If I don’t feel safe, I don’t say anything.

Have you had difficulties with changing your name and the way it affects you moving through the world, being recognized how you want, or being mis-gendered?

I haven’t changed my name legally. I shortened my name recently from Ashley to Ash.

What word(s) would you use to describe your identity?

Femme. Trans. Gender non-conforming. Dancer. Philosopher. Organizer.

Are there ways that you dress / act / speak / etc. to specifically make a statement to others about your identity? Why?

I wear whatever I want. I don’t wear bras as a political choice.

How early on did you know or suspect that you did not identify within the binary?

I knew early on, but I didn’t have language and shared understanding until about 4 years ago.

What are your concerns for the future?

I’m concerned that trans folks won’t be able to live self-determined lives.

What do you look forward to in the future?

Black joy and having fun with chosen family.

What have been the important frustrations in your life, and the most important successes?

Deciding to go back to school.

Do you have a philosophy of life? What’s your best piece of advice?

Fuck the police!