I was born with a lot of the traits that I still possess to this day. I’ve got two eyes, I’m predominantly bipedal, I’ve still got naturally black hair, I’ve got two arms and legs, a face, and my body works fairly well (aside from the asthma and various allergies). And those are where the privileges I was born with end.
I was also born female, which is an identity I grew to identify with in adulthood, making me a cisgender female, which in itself has a whole host of privileges not enjoyed by trans women, genderqueer women etc – however, I still did not come out on top with this aspect of my being. You don’t need me to tell you that women are marginalised in much of society, both Western and otherwise, and the point of this article isn’t to prove to you that I am oppressed – but we’ll get to that later.
Another unchangeable trait I was born with was my skin colour. I’m a woman of colour. On forms, I use the ‘British Asian (Other)’ tick-box, since none of my family have ever lived in any part of Asia or India, and predominately came from the Caribbean areas of South America, and moved outwards as they grew older. The weight of that tick-box is heavy. You’re never more aware of your place in the world when you’re 7 years old and wishing you could tick that ‘British White’ tick-box instead of your own. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my identity and my race now, but growing up in a society that simply oozes western beauty standards from every pore can be difficult when you, as especially a young person, are the opposite of those standards, and therefore perceive yourself as ‘wrong’ or ‘different.’ Alas, that tick-box is mine, and I now tick it in pride.
It always struck me as strange that UCAS forms ask for your sexual orientation when you apply for Universities. I know logically that it’s to fill minority quotas, however as a closeted (to my parents) 16-17 year old, the implications of choosing any option besides ‘heterosexual’ from that list was a terrifying one. Would my conservative parents somehow just know, now that I had put it down on an official form? The paranoia that sprouts from hiding a part of yourself from the humans that spawned you is intense, and at times pathological.
Now, the point of this particle isn’t a pity party, it isn’t a guilt trip, it isn’t meant to make you feel bad for me.
Yes, I’m a woman.
Yes, I’m Asian.
Yes, I am pansexual.
And I have a host of mental illnesses.
But that’s not ALL I am.
I’m more than that list of words. I am the sum of my parts, not the individual parts anyone chooses to accept or reject. Every small aspect of me contributes to what is me. There’s a lot of ‘otherness’ in my life, and yes, that has caused some strife. But what I want to tell you right now, is that you are not a list of traits, you are so, so much more than that.
Do not let anyone tell you that what tick-box you tick, what option you select from a dropdown menu, or what set of arbitrary gender roles you most identify with stops you from doing anything, makes you unlovable, or means that you cannot make an impact on this world. Because you are worthy of love, and you can succeed. I know words are cheap, but I would have given anything for someone to say that those ones me when I was a child. I can’t save the world, I can’t cure sexism, violence, hate crime, racism, homophobia, transphobia or general ignorance – but I can give you my words, for they are all I have to give.
I’m a queer woman of colour, but I also want to work in the Media industry. I’m a university student, and I love video games and art! All of those things contribute to who I am, and similar aspects make up who YOU are, and if someone dislikes any one of them – they are not worthy of your time, or your anguish.
So you could say I lost the minority lottery, or I ended up at the bottom of the barrel. But I like to think that I WON the lottery. Because I get to be all of these amazing, interesting things, and I also get to go on nights out, and watch TV, and go on adventures with my friends, who love me for all of those traits, and I get to have a partner who buys me flowers, who tells me when my posture is bad because she knows it gives me backaches sometimes later in the day, who makes me happy every single day. Who loves me FOR everything I am, not in spite of it. You don’t need people in your life who want you to be anything other than who you are, completely and wholly. If they want someone different, they can go find someone else that fits their standards. But you stay you, no matter who tries to tell you that it’s wrong, or strange. Whether it be family, friends, parents, colleagues, teachers, strangers – you stay you. You’re stuck with yourself for life – might as well learn to love it.
I’m not unlucky. I don’t want your pity. I don’t want your sympathy.
I’m not just ‘the gay brown one’. I’m not the ‘minority’. And I’m certainly not your token “insert label here” friend.
You are you, and that is so, so okay.
And I’m Izzy, and it’s nice to meet you.
Words by Social Media Editor, Izzy Jagan
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