Active8 celebrates Pride month
Expectations. Everyone has them for everything. Do something a certain way, walk, talk, look a certain way. Yet we’re told to have individuality, to identify however we want to. Expectations can be dangerous, but they can also help people to grow.
I’ve always had these expectations on me to be a certain way – mainly because I have disabilities. I was told to be strong, to not let anyone push me around and to consistently do better.
I felt like I couldn’t live up to these expectations and so, I constantly felt like a disappointment. That’s why expectations are so dangerous. They can push you down when they’re intended to lift you up or vice versa.
I first figured out that I wasn’t straight when I was about 13. I thought I was female to male transgender. I just wasn’t comfortable in my skin. I didn’t identify as a female but I also wasn’t sure about whether I identified as a male either. I didn’t know about non-binary, or genderfluid. I wasn’t informed about any of it. That wasn’t my fault either.
I personally believe that the National Curriculum should involve LGBT+ education – this would allow young people to learn what to expect and be respectful. If they aren’t educated on the topic, how do they know what to respect and how to be respectful? They don’t know. That’s a major flaw with the education system, everything is heteronormative.
As a disabled person though, I was unsure how it would work in relation to me. Was I even allowed to be LGBT+ if I was disabled?
Without the proper education, I didn’t know what labels would fit me. I had to complete my own research and I became overwhelmed with how much is actually out there. There were so many gender identities and sexualities!
Most people don’t realise that gender and sex are different. Gender is how you physically present yourself, how you identify. Sex is biological. It gets on my nerves when people say there are only 2 genders, because it’s not true. Even so, there are also more than 2 sexes as there’s intersex (where you are born with both aspects of reproductive systems).
I then did more research, and I learned about non-binary. Non-binary is often used as an umbrella term – where you don’t identify with your born sex. However, I use it because I don’t identify with either sexes. Sexuality however, who knows.
I just say I’m not straight because I don’t know what I am. And that’s okay, not everyone’s going to know exactly who they are.
People often say to me “pick a struggle” (jokingly) because I’m LGBT+ and disabled. But I wouldn’t say either is a struggle. It’s something you live with and know how to adapt around. It’s something you learn to know. If I were to “pick a struggle”, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
I’m me and I have the best friends anyone could ask for. I wouldn’t have what I do if I wasn’t me. I wouldn’t be as happy as I am without it. All my experiences, all of the challenges that I have and have had, have moulded me into the person I am today. Without that, I would be lost.
Some people may be affected by social prejudice, and sure I am too. But I don’t care about it as much as maybe some do. Everyone deserves to be who they are, labelled or not. And the social pressure to have labels can push others to the wrong label. This, as a concept, makes no sense.
Having people you like surround you, only their opinions and your opinion should matter. That’s how I’m able to be myself fully. It should be only your expectations that matter too, and their expectations don’t always have to be fulfilled. Otherwise it will lead to burn out.
Disabilities and LGBT+ aren’t taboos, yet they’re treated like they are. It’s time that changed.
About the author
My name is Erin and I have scoliosis, bronchiectasis and bronchomalacia. My total lung function is around 33%-40%. I have been a member of Active8 since 2020, my group started just before the pandemic, so we kept restarting our project to get the full 2 years. I’ve made life-long friends and have really developed my confidence and reduced my anxiety through Active8.
I study A-Levels and I am currently doing my exams for psychology, sociology, and computer science. I hope to go onto university to study computer science and artificial intelligence.
The small print made big
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