Carmen Cordis is a rad CHATpdx Sexpert, Activist and Leader in Portland, OR.
I’ve recently encountered a lot of people, whether they identify inside, outside, or on the fringe of the alphabet soup community (LGBTQQAAPIT-S and any I missed, in no particular order), who have given me an ultimatum, namely that I must make some kind of physical or surgical alteration (of other people’s choosing) to my body or appearance in order to “earn” their acceptance, approval, respect, charity, or support.
I am taking a stand against our culture of non-binary-gender-phobia, body-shaming, photographic alteration, unrealistic body image fixation, cissexism, transphobia, and discrimination based on gender identity, gender presentation, sexual orientation, or bodily appearance.
I am a living, breathing, feeling human being with a heart, a brain, a plethora of dreams, a past, a future, and a story.
I am not someone else’s narrow vision of a quickly-labeled “other” identity that ceases to exist outside of those narrowly imposed boundaries.
I was born with human dignity. My gender is my own; it does not belong to anyone else. It cannot be ripped away from me and reshaped by someone else, because no one else owns it.
Likewise, My body is my own. No one the right to make serious, irreversible, potentially harmful or deadly decisions regarding MY BODY but me – and those I designate as my agents in the event that I desire assistance.
Because of the culture of fear, my body has been made into my worst enemy for as long as I can remember. I also tend to avoid conflict and prefer mediation or compromise in order to diffuse conflict.
Unfortunately, at times I have lost the control of my own body because someone other than myself decided to own my body or change it to suit their desires.
Willingly, or unwillingly, I surrendered my body to someone else, sometimes to avoid external conflict, and found myself waiting for the hell to be over when I began to drown in the internal conflict I created by capitulating.
Too many times, I have tried to destroy my body, in order to satisfy the demands of a fear-hatred culture, and to escape from the hell of conflict by giving up and throwing in the towel, saying, “Okay. You win. Are you happy now?”
I no longer wish to propitiate those people who would delight in my destruction.
I deserve to be happy, and one step toward my happiness is to own my own body.
Please consider my words the next time you notice someone (perhaps yourself, even) making serious entitlement claims to someone else’s body, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
Please consider my words the next time you notice someone else making serious entitlement claims to your own body, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
Do not surrender to anyone who would delight in the destruction or invalidation of your essential self, the self of your definition and determination, the self of your life experience.
No one is infallible, but maybe by educating each other we can make a better world, one step at a time.