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World

5.24.2017

Gender Diaries: Chella Man [NSFW]

As the world continues to push against gender constructs, the conversation around how people are identifying themselves is constantly evolving. Each week, Milk.xyz will feature a guest editor writing about their specific relationship with gender and where it intersects with fashion. This week, we feature NYC-based artist Chella Man.

When I was three years old, I was in the car with my mom, driving down the highway. From my highchair I called out, “Mom, I want to be a boy!” My mom was astonished and answered: “Well, girls can do anything boys can do, so why?” I responded: “They can’t run around with their shirts off, and they don’t have a penis!” I was three years old, and I knew who I was.

Looking back, I don’t remember this exact conversation, however I do remember my mom bringing it up to me multiple times over the years. I was always uncomfortable when she would ask if I still wanted to be a boy. I remember waving her off because I didn’t want to be a boy. Conversely, I did not want to be a girl either. No one ever told me it was okay to identify between the binaries of boy and girl. I always thought I had to choose one.

After skipping my senior year of high school and coming to New York City for college at The New School, I’ve met some incredible gender non-conforming individuals. Talking with these people has been extremely enlightening. I have learned it is more than okay to identify outside of the gender binary and accepted myself there. Now, as a genderqueer/non-binary/GNC individual, I am starting my top surgery process. Unlike many may think, this does not also mean I am starting testosterone, although it is always an open option for the future.

My journey of gender is perpetual, and I believe it’s fluctuation is beautiful.

My advice for others is to RESPECT how other’s sense of self and acknowledge that all experiences and emotions are valid, even if you personally have no connections to them.

Images courtesy of Mary V Benoit

Stay tuned to Milk for more Gender Diaries and see our previous installments here.

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