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  • Writer's pictureAshton Blyth

Finalising my artwork for Straight White Male

The aim of this artwork is to highlight not only my own internal struggle with my perceived gender identity and sexuality versus how I actually identify, but the struggle of many other people. Certainly, a lot of trans and gender non-conforming people but not solely, as I believe this is a universal feeling. I want to bring to light the difference between gender expression and gender identity and the conflict between them that is caused by a society that does not want to acknowledge beyond the binary stereotypes and thus assumes gender and sexuality, using my personal challenges to do so.

Originally, my plan was to go over the photographs with black lines (but eliminate my face and give myself anonymity) and give the images bold and exciting colours to attract attention - the exact opposite of what I try to do when I leave the house.

However, I have now decided to use the original photographs as they are. This is an extremely vulnerable thing for me to do, as if selected I would be putting my own face on billboards while stating that I am transgender. Yes, I am an out-and-proud trans artist, but it's a completely different matter to put an image of myself applying tape (as I did in my last post) out there for the world. But I think the point I'm trying to make with this artwork is that our gender identity, our gender expression and our gender presentation are not vulnerable things for society to exploit? We're allowed to exist and just be without facing prejudice, these images (more so the last three) shouldn't make me feel vulnerable.

By making a real person the subject of the image it creates a relatable artwork for those who also suffer/have suffered from being misgendered and their sexual preferences assumed based on their gender expression and not their true gender identity or sexual orientation.

I hope that non-LGBTQ+ people will also be able to see themselves within the artwork, as I feel that these self-conscious thoughts about gender expression versus gender identity and sexuality are felt universally. Science and society have created two binary genders, each with their own set of stereotypes, that you are expected to accept and conform to or face ostracization.

I have also added text, my inner thoughts in these moments, onto the images:

1: I need to make sure it’s even…

2: Can you see the tape outline?

3: My hair’s getting too long… or is it?

4: What others see does not define me.

I hope that by depicting the vulnerability I feel when leaving the house and facing the judgement of those who aren’t so understanding of beyond the binary makes others feel like they are not alone in dealing with these struggles – most notably in a country governed by people who refuse to outlaw the practice of conversion therapy on transgender people.


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