If there’s one thing we’ve learned from trans activist Janet Mock’s crusade to help the less-informed define transgender people, it’s that defining transgender people is not your job. “I think that we need to have a discussion about what gender is and gender expectations in our culture,” she told Piers Morgan earlier this month.
That very discussion began with self-described “androgynous lesbian of color” Arielle Scott in a post on MTV’s Act blog this week, where she echoes the sentiment of Mock in an eloquent open letter explaining her sexuality.
Scott explains that discussion of her sexuality and gender expression have become a hot topic since her debut as a member of The Real World: Ex-Plosion cast—she’s been “misidentified as trans” and wants to set the record straight:
My initial response (“But, I don’t want to be trans”) to finding out that people thought I was trans can be explained in about 3 words: I am Ari. For me, that means I’m a filmmaker, a model, and a pusher….I spend a lot of time crafting my work, and just as much time crafting my identity. Those two things have always been shaped by what I do and how I feel; never by how other people perceived me. My initial reaction to being defined as anything other than what I perceive myself to be was, justifiably, a rejection.
Scott says she’s constantly misidentified as trans because she’s a “masculine woman,” a trait that almost always leads people to “decide she was born a boy”:
I’ve realized that the way people perceive and then label me has very little to do with me and much more to do with a lack of exposure to people like me. This experience is true for anyone. Whether we’re being misidentified on national television or having someone judge or label us in our everyday lives.
Our “most important resource is our willingness to learn,” she says. “Transgender (or gender variant) people often lose their homes, jobs, families, health insurance and a number of other luxuries we take for granted because of who they are, not inside, but in the eyes of others. And put plainly, I find that, like all forms of discrimination, to be unacceptable.”
To watch the full episode where Arielle educates her roommates on her gender and sexuality, visit MTV.com.