I am a sister to some and a brother to others
Clodagh Leonard is a gender warrior, among many things. She has been contributing to the work of xYg since January 2015, supporting Rachel with business development, social media strategy and positivity-generating goodness. So it seemed natural that we ask her what we have been asking a lot of people as part of our gender expression series: What does gender expression mean to you? Here’s what she said.
I am Clodagh Leonard. I am a trans rights activist and a gender warrior. At the moment I identify as female; I am also 24 but neither is forever.
I believe that everybody has the ability to contribute something wonderful to the world. Sometimes when we look at society, or see the way it looks at us we can lose sight of this and forget our power. Society has rules that don’t help this. The rule that you should be one of anything is a particularly jarring one for me. I am not ‘just’ a girl; I am not ‘just’ an activist, or a writer. We are all capable of a plethora of different identities. I am a sister to some and a brother to others. I connect differently to different people. My identity is constantly in flux. All of me is up for grabs – if it wasn’t how could I experience the endless possibilities of growth?
When I think of the person I was at 17 I can feel a weight on my chest. I wanted so much to be loved so I squeezed and squeezed into a box that would never fit. I cried in bathtubs and I shaved my legs. I straightened hair and just couldn’t figure it out. I screamed and freaked out and why? To be a girl.
What does that even mean? Surely if it was that natural, and I was just ‘born that way’ I wouldn’t have to work so hard at it. If I was just a girl and that was that, fact. Where did all the rules come from?
Be a good little girl!
Put that dress on!
Girls don’t spit.
You can’t climb in that dress!
That’s not the way a lady behaves!
Sit like a girl and put your legs together.
Surely, I thought, if boys where just meant to be boys, and girls were just meant to be girls they would just be. We could let go of the rules.
If all this is natural then any type of girl or boy is the right one.
The right type of girl for me to be right now is a loud one; one who wears boxers, and loves to dance; one who is maternal and nourishing and who skateboards.
This is me – this is my flavour of gender. But that doesn’t mean it has to fit anybody else. The way you see yourself and the world is completely unique from anybody else. This is the gift we can bring. Showing the world what that looks like is opening a door to knowledge we never knew we needed.
When I meet people who express their gender in a way that society has never even thought about I know we are standing at the door to a way better tomorrow.
It’s all so exciting.