I started coming out last year. Far too late in life, I told myself. Far too many ways to convince myself into doubt.
I trained myself to do it early, and I do it often. Even over little things: “I’m wrong, I’m stupid, What if?”
What if I’m not who I say I am? What if I’m too late? What if I lose everyone?
The deeper I moved into my yoga practice, the more I had to face this disconnect between my mind and my body. For the longest time, each were totally separate entities, fighting against one another. I could accept certain parts of my body by seeing it as not belonging to me, and I could change others by controlling them through behaviors. Regardless of the work I was doing to improve my life and my mental health, I was still hitting a long, slow self destruct button.
Before long it was clear: if I was going to keep up my practice and truly work on myself, I had to live with full authenticity. And that was really frightening.
I had known for a long time that my relationship with my gender was different than those around me. Since I was very young, really. But I didn’t grow up with the tools to understand what I felt. I grew up in a small, religious town. I learned at a young age not to tell people that my mom was gay, or face ridicule. I didn’t have the internet until well after everyone else, but even then we were still figuring out how to use it. Then later in life, I just told myself to perform the gender I thought I was meant to. If I could not be accepted because of my own mother’s queerness, how was I ever to accept the reality of my own?
I started testing out They/Them pronouns last year at 28. 28! After a longtime of finally knowing, but circling doubt. After a long time of telling myself I would lose everything. I was away at a conference where I only see the group of folx once a year, so it was safe. And it was empowering.
I started having conversations. First with my partner, then with others. With each one, the gross gripping fear in my chest that made me want to gag on the words grew lighter, and I grew deeper into my relationships. Deeper into my practice.
Deeper into my body.
Dysphoria is a deep, dark pit. This cry of a voice that reminds you again and again that your body just isn’t right, that the way you move in the world is beyond wrong.
My yoga puts me directly at odds with that, and it isn’t always easy. Breathing through that feeling of wrongness doesn’t make it go away.
But it does make me stronger in my resolve. It strengthens my own internal voice. The one that speaks up for me, that asks for what I want and need. That takes up space as a queer trans person.
I tell my students at the end of every class that we have the opportunity to hit the reset button every time we leave our mats. To start anything and everything that we choose over again from the beginning: the day, our relationships, decisions we have made. When faced with that task, I truly hope that each and every one of us pick something to evaluate and start anew.
Or start from somewhere you always knew was there, but never went to.
It’s never too late to start again. With your yoga postures or with your Self. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and give your Self the first real long look in years. Where can you shine brighter? Do you know what it is, but it seems terrifying?
That is the most important part of your Self to share.
If we continue to be afraid of ourselves, we will continue to fear one another. No amount of asanas will send you to some higher plane of existence: we have to do the dirty, scary, seemingly awful work of digging though each part of our Self until we can stand upright and, truly and fully, take up space.
This Pride Month I am finally celebrating my transness. I have a beautiful trans family. I adore the rest of my queer family, and all those who love and support me right along side as allies.
I am reminded that the first Pride was a riot, that bricks were thrown against the state by beautiful black and brown trans women who just wanted to be given what they deserved: a place at the table. An opportunity to be the head of the table. An opportunity to show the world that there is a light in our authenticity that they can no longer look away from, because it will only continue to shine brighter and brighter and brighter.
Because of them, I will fight tooth and nail for who I am.
Shine your light. Take up space. Use the toolbox of your yoga to do hard, scary work.
I was named after my grandmother, but now largely go by AM or, simply, “Elliott” (which I love).
My grandma would have loved it, too. Because I love myself more than I ever have.
Do me a favor? Next time you introduce yourself to someone, share your pronouns. Build a better world in as small and simple of a way as saying, “I’m Amanda, my pronouns are She/Her. What’s your name?”
I can’t tell you how much easier that makes folx like me breathe.
This is my happiest, scariest, most exciting Pride yet. I hope to see you all there.
I’m trans, I’m queer. I’m an asset to my community and will continue to work to be an even better one. I’m smart and I’m strong and I love harder than I have ever loved.
Who are you?
About AM Elliott
Originally from Indiana, AM returned to Indianapolis by way of Singapore. Indy was originally just a landing place for them, but it has ended up being home for the past 5 years. AM came to The Hot Room after a conversation with Lukas Schooler during a cast party for George Orwell’s 1984. The Hot Room quickly became home shortly after they took their first Bikram class and connected with Hye Jin and Laura. AM believes they live more authentically through their yoga practice. They continue to learn and allow space to grow and change. They think yoga can be fun and healing, and believe everyone deserves that experience.