Writer, performer and artist Alok Vaid-Menon has opened up about their experiences growing up in Texas as a transgender non-binary person and the importance of emotional release.
Vaid-Menon is currently hosting workshops on gender across Europe and posted on Instagram about a recent workshop of theirs where participants discussed the rituals people invent to let go of their feelings.
"As a kid in Texas I remember I would take walks alone and just scream out to the stars, "I AM GAY" (this was before I knew what trans was) and it was less about the word and more about the meaning, the declaration, having an audience of stars," Vaid-Menon wrote.
"How in college there was this one underground parking lot I found freshman year and I would go there every once in a while and just scream and practice poems and how now I find stages and just scream and cry and then am ready again to wake up and participate in a world that teaches us that the things we know most intimately are not real.
"I guess what I want to say is that I believe femmes of all genders coming together and screaming is one of the most beautiful symphonies I have ever heard in my life and I hope you hear it one day or maybe join too."
Vaid-Menon has previously shared their story with Refinery 29, discussing the importance of challenging the gender binary.
“When you’re assigned male at birth you have to fight like fucking hell to be feminine,” says in a video for the website.
“There’s a material consequence to me presenting feminine and there’s not a material consequence to me presenting masculine.”
Vaid-Menon has a huge social media following and posts photos of brightly coloured outfits with striking accessories and make-up.
“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,” they say.
“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.”
The artist—who was born and raised in Texas—says they were constantly told as a child: “You’re a boy”.
“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,” they laugh.
“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!”
Vaid-Menon—who is conducting workshops on gender this month in Europe—says it’s important for 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…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.”