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This trans non-binary artist is fighting to break down the gender binary

Meka Beresford July 5, 2017
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Alok Menon. (Photo by alokvmenon/Instagram)

A trans non-binary performance artist has opened up about their fight with the gender binary and being forced to deny their identity as a young child.

Alok Vaid-Menon is an artist, writer and performer who is currently travelling across Europe doing shows about gender identity.

The performer recently spoke to Refinery 29 about coming to terms with their own gender identity and struggling with being forced to present male.

“When you’re assigned male at birth you have to fight like fucking hell to be feminine,” Menon explained.

“There’s a material consequence to me presenting feminine and there’s not a material consequence to me presenting masculine.”

Menon frequently wears bright patterned clothing, make-up and jewellery – all things that they get hate for online.

The artist explained: “The minute I wear lipstick or the minute I put on earrings or the minute I’m wearing a skirt my entire reality shifts and that’s just what our world is.

“When we see something that’s confusing we have to categorise you immediately and we need to be very clear that categorisation comes from fear.”

Growing up Menon was told what gender they should conform to but they never felt comfortable, but now they do not conform to any gender.

“People said ‘you’re a boy and so I was like okay shit I guess I have to try that’. I tried and I was just so bad at it. I was just really bad.

“It’s funny because a lot of people now are so insistent on calling me a man, I’m like, ‘do you realise how tragic I was at being a man?’ I mean oh my god I was terrible,” they added.

The activist went on to urge everybody to fight against the gender binary, explaining that being masculine or feminine should not be linked to genitalia.

“I need everyone to realise that we all have a stake in challenging the gender binary. This thing called woman and this thing called man was never meant for any of us.

“What does a femininity look like that’s not linked to a vagina? What does a femininity look like that’s not linked to a body? What my femininity looks like is just a radically unapologetic flamboyance.”

The artist said that they have since embraced their own personality which was oppressed when they were younger.

Menon added: “Being regal and queenly because these were parts of me that were literally punished out of me as a child.

“Now for me, it’s just dramatic gestures, it’s complete excessiveness, it’s high pitched voices, it’s overreactions, gossip.

“It’s all those things that I was taught were weak and futile but I’m now realising are actually subversive.”

Related topics: gender, LGBT, non-binary, Trans, Transgender, US

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