Oral History with Aria Ashburn (2021)

Special Collections at UNC Asheville
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00:00:07 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: "And on this side is male, and on this side is female. I don't consider this middle space non-binary, I consider everything around the line non-binary. And I'm like connected. I'm like floating out in space, but there's a kite line from female to me. If that makes sense."

Segment Synopsis: How Aria defines her gender and how they arrived in Western North Carolina

Keywords: Gender & Sexuality; Identity; Non-Binary; On Being Trans; Queer

00:06:43 - Coming Out Experience

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Partial Transcript: We talked about trans people in that class for like, two or three weeks, and there was a moment where we were watching a documentary, I don't remember what the documentary's name is, about kids who were trans who were like five. Who were like, I'm a girl trapped in boys body or vice versa, and the social barriers that they have to dodge and all of this stuff and I was just like, the lights were going off and dots were connecting and I was like, "Oh, dear, God."

Segment Synopsis: Aria shares experience of growing up and understanding her gender identity. Coming to college they explored their trans identity before coming out before her senior year and after college.

Keywords: Childhood; College; Coming Out; Coming to Terms; Inner Struggles; Living in the Closet; Mental Health

00:14:15 - Relationship with Family is Complicated

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Partial Transcript: And it was also, had also been so long that transitioning, like starting hormones was like, a couple months away and I was like, ugh. Changes are going to happen and she's going to notice. I don't, I'm at the point where I don't have any choice but to tell her.

Segment Synopsis: Aria shares how difficult coming out to her family was - particularly their mom.

Keywords: Coming Out; Family Dynamics; Parents & Family; Stigma

00:30:30 - Coming Out Expectations vs. Reality

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Partial Transcript: Basically, it boiled down to, you are who you are. I still love you. But, I didn't end up telling him my preferred name until like a day later. We didn't get into my sexuality until like a day later. Three days later, we were still, I was like, "Oh there's this detail that I forgot to mention." Or, "Oh, my preferred pronouns are this." Or, you know, all this other stuff.

Segment Synopsis: Aria shares the reality of coming out to her best friends and others.

Keywords: Coming Out; Friends & Networks; Names & Pronouns

00:34:58 - Queer Community at Western Carolina University

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Partial Transcript: And you know, Western has made steps to make it more open. You know, with the name change. Not the name change, the nickname. What is it? The preferred name system that they've implemented that I have very strong feelings about, but we can get into them in a minute if you want, they're not positive feelings.

Segment Synopsis: Aria shares her perspective of how the queer community at Western Carolina University has evolved throughout their time there. How it looks from inside the community versus outside of the community. She talks about the flaws of the preferred name system that WCU has adopted.

Keywords: College; Finding Community; LGBTQ Community; LGBTQ Friendships; LGBTQ Groups; Queer Spaces; Western Carolina University

00:43:18 - Pressure to Know Your Label

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Partial Transcript: If I were to, if I were to be able to say anything and it put in the archive for people to read, I would say, experiment, I guess. I think that there's a lot of, like pressure. And this is pressure that I, myself, early on in my coming out and realizing that I'm trans, and figuring out my sexuality, there's this like, pressure that we all put on ourselves to know your label. Know what you are. And I want to put on record that, that's fucking bullshit.

Segment Synopsis: Aria encourages people to experiment and not worry as much about getting their labels wrong. She also recommends people to minimize their participation in queer discourse on the internet - specifically around language and labels.

Keywords: Being Queer; Finding Happiness; Gender & Sexuality; Looking Ahead; Names & Pronouns; Reflections; Self-Discovery; labels