Episode 20: Ashton Colby
Transgender Male Advocate Ashton Colby speaks about challenging transgender stereotypes and his passion for changing the manner in which the media tells transgender stories. For more information on Ashton, please visit his linktree. For more information on his organization Gender YOUphoria, please visit the links below.
Intro Voices [00:00:05] Where do I go? It only happened once. I think I was singled out. The phone calls began about one month ago. What is hazing? Something happened to me when I was younger. I'm worried about my safety. He said he was sorry. Can someone help me? Where can I get help? Can someone help me?
Karen Ortman [00:00:37] Hi, everyone, and welcome back to “You Matter”, a podcast created to teach, inspire and motivate members of the NYU community who have been victimized in some form or fashion and to identify resources both on and off campus that can help. I am your host, Karen Ortman, Assistant Vice President of Field Operations at the Department of Public Safety and a retired law enforcement professional.
Oatile Ramsey [00:00:59] And I'm your co-host, Oatile Ramsey, an NYU Stern alumni and a current graduate student at Gallatin studying Inclusive Economic Development. If any information presented today is triggering or disturbing, please feel free to contact the wellness exchange at 212-443-9999 or the NYU Department of Public Safety and their Victim Services Unit at 212-998-2222.
Karen Ortman [00:01:28] Today we introduce Ashton Colby, a transgender male advocate who is challenging transgender stereotypes and is passionate about changing the manner in which the media tells transgender stories. Ashton, thank you so much for joining us today on “You Matter”.
Ashton Colby [00:01:44] Thank you.
Karen Ortman [00:01:46] So who is Ashton Colby?
Ashton Colby [00:01:49] So I always love to tell people I'm a yoga teacher first thing and I’m really passionate about mindfulness-based emotional resilience skills for this community. I teach monthly classes to LGBT youth and to adults, and I also do media consulting really specifically, again, focused on flipping the script on the narratives that we tell about transgender people, making it more about just the body, making it about the person's spirit, their mind, their emotional state of well-being, and allowing people to be more of the person they already are and shifting it away from just about the surgeries and the hormones and making it less about the before and after and more about just an integration of their whole well-being.
Karen Ortman [00:02:45] How do you do that with youth? I'm interested.
Ashton Colby [00:02:48] Yeah. So I know that in my experience, I got about three and a half years into my transition. I had taken testosterone and I had gotten my chest surgery to masculinize my chest. And I realized that I could pursue another surgery and that was an option but it didn't feel like that was the best, right, next step. I wanted to figure out how to just simply feel better in my body as it was. And that was a whole self discovery process that led me to meditation and to the therapeutic sides of yoga, where it's helping unpack the trauma that's stored in the body, in the muscles, in the connective tissue. And just with the youth, creating a safe space where they can really explore movement in a safe place in their body and get back into their body. A lot of trans people are very much like from the neck up and in their their bodies, very separate from their internal sense of being, even after they've had these physical changes, we don't really have yet the language or maybe like a skill set that we can present that's being presented on a large scale. But how do people get back in their bodies and make this an integrative experience? So I teach at an LGBT youth center and I do a lot online and just sharing these skills and just speaking up about the fact that trends, you don't have to wait until they get the physical changes in order to be happy. Really. It's like true, lasting happiness and fulfillment and joy is something that is a skill that you practice every single day. And if you wait until you've had these changes, then you're going to hit a wall like I did, where you figure out that like maybe the next physical change isn't the answer. Maybe it is like enough to be where you are and it's internal and now it's about emotions and interpersonal relationships.
Karen Ortman [00:04:55] Can you speak to that separation that you just mentioned a few minutes ago? Separation from the mind and the body? Like what is that? Why does that happen?
Ashton Colby [00:05:09] Yeah, it's - so a lot of people know about the fight or flight response and we've heard that, and a lot of people don't know as much about the rest and digest system. So we have our sympathetic nervous system which, you know, we get scared and we can either run or fight. But really, this state that we're always supposed to be in is this more state of rest and digest, the state of homeostasis, which is our parasympathetic nervous system. And with being transgender and having this disconnect, this dysphoria or this feeling out of alignment with your internal sense of self, with how you move through the world, how your external world is, how people are interpreting your body and your gender. You know, if someone misgenders you or, you know, you just hear something that's an ignorant comment or really you just feel dysphoria with yourself. You're really often in a state of fight or flight with your body, but your body's your home. You can't leave it. So you’re very much more often in a heightened state of like stress hormones pumping cortisol in that fight or flight. And we don't really tell transgender people it's safe to be present in your body or even give them the skills to do that. We say you have to be trapped in your body. You have to feel like you're born in the wrong body and be at this constant kind of tug of war with your body, but really my mission is to allow people to cultivate these skills to get them back in their body throughout the whole process and unpack the narratives that say you have to wait to do this until you get the external physical changes. And it's really about stress and anxiety and things that come along with that. It's not required to be transgender.
Karen Ortman [00:07:15] So you mentioned the term dysphoria and that term is used often in the context of transgender people. For those listeners who do not know what that means, can you explain it?
Ashton Colby [00:07:32] Yeah. So, in order to gain access to medically transition through hormones or surgery for insurance purposes and all of that, you have to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria. And there are some criteria that says you, for I think six months or more, you have to feel like you are a different gender and that you feel like there is this sense of disconnect and there is this sense of internal distress or pressure or discontent with the way the gender that you were assigned at birth and I think that we've evolved. It used to be gender identity disorder a few years ago and even before that, I think it was so much more like, again, as I mentioned, like the trapped in the wrong body. And that is very - it doesn't - that narrative doesn't resonate with everybody and we don't allow people to write their own story when it comes to that. I was excited when I figured out that there was something I could do, I could transition. I was really so elated. I was ready to go and make this happen and ready to be more of the person I already was. But then I realized the process of me gaining access to medically transition is that I have to go to a psychologist and I have to go to a therapist and a doctor and explain to them that, you know, I fit these diagnostic criteria and for them that they really are looking for somebody that is very distressed and hates their body and all of these things that -
Karen Ortman [00:09:20] That maybe not everybody is.
Ashton Colby [00:09:24] Yeah. And the narratives that we've seen in the media and in movies and on TV really contribute to the biases that even doctors internalize. And then when they see patients, they think that if the transgender person doesn't look or act or present like the way that they've seen in the media because they've maybe not dealt with a transgender client before, they really treat them in a way that's not holistic and doesn't allow them to be an entire person. We're getting better, though. Like, a lot of doctors are realizing this isn't a one size fits all process. And if somebody just knows simply that this is going to improve the quality of their life to transition, that is really enough. And maybe we can call that dysphoria. But I don't think dysphoria has to last as long. Maybe it can be like a moment in time, a realization, just this, contrast of like, you know, this would improve the quality of my life. Is that enough or does it have to be this prolonged, heart wrenching thing that lasts for years of struggle? That's something that is a lot of people's story and that is totally valid. And I don't want to invalidate that. But I think we're expanding the possibilities-
Karen Ortman [00:10:39] That other conditions exist for other people. So as a teenager, you participated in many beauty pageants, many of which you won as a female.
Ashton Colby [00:10:53] Yeah.
Karen Ortman [00:10:54] Can you describe that experience for you? Was it joyful?
Ashton Colby [00:10:59] So, yes, it's interesting when I look at photos of me when I was in pageants, it's hard for me to look out, but not for the reason that people would think. They would think, oh, you're trans, and you don't want to look at yourself as a girl. And really, it's - I'm smiling in these photos, but it's hard for me to look at because I realize that person is smiling because they're getting a lot of external validation for being up on stage and doing those things. It's - yeah, we really validate people by the way that we look. And that's prevented me from feeling like that was - preventing me for a long time, feeling like it was a possibility for me to transition because I was really worried about what people thought. But yeah, I really - I think I enjoyed it for the fact that it was a really good attempt at me trying so hard to push down these feelings of masculinity was really like validating that other people were like, “Oh, you're so pretty as a girl” and all that. And that had value, but that only can sustain you for so long. If other people are just giving you praise and affirmation like that, that's not sustainable. And it wasn't internally from the inside out a joyful experience. It felt like I was in drag a lot of the time. And I mean, so it was playful but I'm glad that that just part of my life is over. It was really something where on the stage when I was participating in Miss Ohio, I really had the realization like, this is not it. And it was within six months of doing that that I came out as trans because it was so like, I'm never gonna do this again. And I remember my like my lip quivering on stage and me just being like, so out of touch with my body. My body, like, our bodies are very intelligent and there is a lot of wisdom there. And my body was saying, like I was shaking and I was really emotional after, crying. And I think people thought I was crying because I didn't place as high as I thought, you know, all that kind of thing. But I was crying because I knew that I didn't have to do that again. But then the next step for me was going to be transition. And it was - so that was like a turning point. It taught me a lot.
Karen Ortman [00:13:42] Wow. So you mentioned the feelings of masculinity when you were participating in these beauty pageants. So when did that begin for you, where you recognized that that's who you were on the inside?
Ashton Colby [00:13:57] Yeah, I think there's a narrative in the media that is that you always have known since you were a little kid, and that doesn't really give people the space to know that. Like, for myself as a little kid, you know, I was a tomboy and I was Hercules for Halloween. And I liked to wear camo and I liked to like, you know, wear a little night helmet with a little sword and stuff. I loved all of that kind of stuff and I saw myself as a little boy. And it was really when I got to be, you know, 10 and 11 and started getting into middle school and puberty, that it was no longer cute for me to be a tomboy. I really got a lot of pressure for me to wear pink and to wear girls clothes and to wear hair and do my hair, makeup. All of that.
Karen Ortman [00:14:53] And where was that pressure from?
Ashton Colby [00:14:55] I remember not just, you know, not just my mom, but like other people’s - my friend's mom, even, and teachers and other women and just seeing television shows of, like, this is how you're supposed to act as a woman. This is how you're supposed to grow up as a girl. And if you don't do that, you know, people, even like boys at school would make fun of me for not acting like a girl. And all of that. But so I, as a kid, did feel like I was a little boy. But then I pushed that down so hard as I got into, you know, puberty and high school and all that, that I didn't really - I couldn't - the narrative that I've always known I was a little boy just doesn't ring true because I didn't always have the space to know. I really had it pushed down and that's why I ended up going into beauty pageants because I was so scared of showing any sign of masculinity. I did get made fun of in high school, if anybody perceived anything that was masculine that I was doing and so it really just pivoted even deeper into doing beauty pageants out of just fear of what other people thought. So a lot of people, a lot of trans people do that. It's not a thing where it's always been obvious or it's always been a clear path of always knowing. Like we really have a lot of narratives with trans people really deliberately try to push these feelings down and go the opposite direction of what you would even think.
Karen Ortman [00:16:36] Was highschool hard for you?
Ashton Colby [00:16:38] I was really good at, I think, pushing the feelings down, and so it was hard in the way that I felt like I wasn't being authentic. And it was hard in the ways that I didn't have genuine connections or friendships on a deep level because I was one person internally and then externally I presented to the world as a different person. But then I was kind of a chameleon in the way that I tried to be popular and tried to get that external validation and fit in in that way. But yeah, that pressure was difficult. Yeah.
Karen Ortman [00:17:24] So you spoke of the hardships and the difficulties that you experienced, but what should our listeners know about perhaps other hardships that trans people face?
Ashton Colby [00:17:39] Yeah, it's definitely not a one size fits all thing. My experience as somebody that transitioned, you know, younger and then I started transitioning when I was like 19 and 20 and I'm white, and now I pass as a cisgender male as I move through the world. And I have had the support of my dad throughout this process who really helped me get access to medical care and everything like that. And that's not as common. And I do live in a city, I live in Columbus, Ohio, and it's very LGBT friendly. And there's a LGBT health clinic that really tries to get that - Equitas Health, they are just profound in the way that they support people creating their own transition narrative. And it's, if I didn't have those things, my experience would be totally different. But with trans people who don't have that, like, if you're a person of color or a transgender woman who is visibly transgender in some way and, you know, you've experienced poverty or homelessness or other mental health issues that go on top of this and and things that I have a lot of compassion for. Like, there’s reasons - there’s states where now still you can be fired for being transgender. Even in my city, Columbus has LGBTQ protections. But if I go 45 miles outside of that, I could be fired and there's no protection for housing either. Someone could be denied housing for being transgender. And we're having transgender women of color being murdered here in the United States still in 2020 and transgender people of all gender. And the thing is, it is getting better. But those things are barriers to success that really hold transgender people back in a lot of ways. But the biggest thing that I think all those struggles and all those barriers have in common is that they're - they block possibility models of like what does it look like to thrive? Because the narratives that I see are transgender women that are being murdered and are, you know, people that are homeless, that are transgender. And it's really scary to see that there's people still in my community that don't have access to just basic resources. And if you don't have those things and on top of that, you're transitioning it makes complete sense why drug addiction and why mental health and anxiety and depression are so much higher. And the suicide rates as well in this community are so much higher. Like, it just simply makes sense. And that's why I think people outside of the community can have a lot of compassion for this community. But I want to see as well that we can acknowledge all of these additional barriers, but I don't want to see those things ultimately hold our community back in not just transitioning but thriving in every area of our lives. It's a work in progress. But things are getting better.
Oatile Ramsey [00:21:11] You mentioned a couple of different things that seem to add to these barriers that you mentioned. You mentioned the way some misconceptions that doctors might have or how we sort of tell people how they know they should identify and that they should have always known. I'm wondering what other common misconceptions you're aware of or that other people should be aware of with regard to the trans community.
Ashton Colby [00:21:40] Yeah. A huge thing, it's like, we're so much more than our bodies. And who we are is so much more than just surgery. Like, I always joke that I don't like surgery, actually. Like I would have avoided anything that I could. You know, I joke that anesthesia makes me nauseous. So if there's any surgery that I don't like - I think people think that transgender people are really excited to get surgery. And in some ways, we're excited for what that surgery will bring into our life. Like, I can go to the beach shirtless and that's beautiful and exciting, but I don't actually like surgery. So. And I always think it's interesting when I when I do trainings and stuff, I talk about how you can be gay and be transgender, like a lot of people think that the LGB and T and Q and all the other letters are are so separated from each other. But you can really be bisexual and trans, you can be gay and transgender and people think, well, why would you transition if you're just going to then continue to date somebody of the same gender but really who you love and your body and how you identify as your gender and how you move through the world, they're all different things, but they make up your entire being and everybody's transition story and their transgender experience is different. And it's so individual. And then being transgender in itself, even though transgender people are more likely to have anxiety and depression and the suicide rates are are much higher, like 41 percent of trans people have attempted suicide. And that's something that I - why I'm so invested in getting transgender people to recognize how stress manifests in the body and really be able to like self-regulate through breathing and grounding techniques. But being transgender in itself isn't a mental illness. It's something that requires medical intervention or medical resources to allow people to improve the quality of their life. But, you know, with doing pageants, like that was the height of me trying to be a woman. If there was anything else I could have done to, like, cure or correct my feelings of needing to transition or feeling any sense of masculinity like, hey, I'm open to suggestions, but, you know, I've gone to therapy for years and I still go to therapy to support myself through this transition. And, you know, my therapist would never, and no reputable therapist would ever consider being transgender a mental illness.
Karen Ortman [00:24:40] But there are people that do make that assumption about that.
Ashton Colby [00:24:45] Yeah, and it really puts a lot of shame-based and fear-based narratives that there's something broken or something to fix or correct with being trans. But really the only thing that, in all the research that they found and even through my experience that helps transgender people thrive and go on to like have beautiful lives is allowing them to transition and supporting them and allowing them to get surgery or hormones or whatever they need for their individual sense of self and just allowing them to use a name and pronoun that they identify with. All those things, supporting them, is really the answer. But then in addition to that, transgender people can really, you know, take their power back too by knowing that they can feel a sense of groundedness and ease in their body throughout this whole process. So it's both.
Oatile Ramsey [00:25:47] I do like how you mentioned all the work you do with wellness activities to kind of allow people in this community to thrive. I'm wondering if you have any more thoughts on how to break all these misconceptions or these assumptions people have that seem to reinforce the barriers?
Ashton Colby [00:26:06] I think it's about just letting people tell their own story and not making assumptions when you meet anybody. Like, just allowing people as you move through the world, even as a transgender person myself, I think our brains really want to categorize people. They're really efficient and it helps us move through the world very easily. But we want to tell people - we want to put people in boxes. That's a man. That's a woman. And if somebody doesn't fit into that category or they need to express that in a different way, then it makes people uncomfortable and it causes them like stress in themselves, like our a little lizard brain or amygdala back here wants to know the answer. Is this a man or a woman? Is this like black or white? It's very linear, categorizing, throw people in boxes. And I encourage people to kind of sit with the uncomfortableness that might arise and just allowing people to self-identify and show up with their like inherent wholeness beyond all these identities that come with value judgments. And I mean, that's age, that's race, that's gender, sexuality, ability. All of those things beyond that we can really ust allow people to be whole.
Oatile Ramsey [00:27:43] Could you think of any sort of tangible ways to make sure people don't fall into these traps during conversation. So I know, for instance, some people might be very “Yes, sir, yes, ma'am” type and probably doing that out of the deepest respect. But I can imagine many situations where that ends up in a misgender and things of the sort. So I was wondering if you could kind of speak to how people should or just the way you believe people can navigate these conversations in a more productive and open and inclusive way.
Ashton Colby [00:28:22] Yeah. When someone says, you know, “Yes, ma'am”, or, you know, “Yes, sir”, I recognize that their intent is to be polite and respectful. So I try not to get too upset when I hear even though internally I'm like, “You know what? Maybe that person doesn't, or maybe I don't identify as this”. And I think it's just when you, you know better, you do better. Once you've once it's been brought into your awareness, that maybe saying, “Yes, sir, yes, ma'am,” to somebody that you've never met isn't necessarily always gonna be the way to make them feel most comfortable. Then maybe you just say, you know, “Hello, my friend, what can I do for you today?” Or, you know, “That person over there with the red sweater” or however, you know, there's so many different creative ways that really you can just open the door to not really put people in the box of one or the other gender when gender is so much more expansive.
Oatile Ramsey [00:29:38] Definitely. You also did mention, I mean, I suppose it has been a long transition. You've mentioned these feelings of anxiety that have come with it. You've also mentioned how you do a lot of wellness activities to kind of deal with it. You also mentioned therapy. I'm wondering if there's any other practices you make to sort of find comfort - ones that you do for yourself and ones that you might recommend for other people.
Ashton Colby [00:30:08] Yeah. The biggest thing that I practice and this is like a daily habit - and all these things are practices so there's no getting to this, like, gender enlightenment stage where you no longer ever feel anxiety. It's a thing where if I notice myself, my awareness being really between my ears about what other people are thinking or not being very present, I really just feel my feet, feel my feet on the ground. Am I wearing socks, wearing shoes, or am I barefoot? And bringing the awareness down from like my chest where anxiety typically lives up here in the core of the chest, the neck, up in our heads. And just totally interrupting that pattern and bringing my awareness to my feet, the lowest, most grounded place in my body. And I take inhales but I make my exhale longer than my inhale. That's a really easy way to turn on your parasympathetic nervous system, your rest and digest, because when we're running, you know, you're breathing very heavily and rapidly through your nose and mouth. Same with anxiety. But if you can slow down and you can take control consciously of your breath, and sometimes that's not always available. And so there's other things, like, “I will name the census, I will name colors that I see, I will name…” and this is all inside. But it brings you back in the present moment to know, like, maybe that person did just misgender me, maybe I did see that thing that was really upsetting. But am I OK and safe right now in this moment? Am I okay? And naming things like colors that I see or or things that I hear, like going through the senses - What do I hear? What do I - maybe I drank some coffee, what do I taste? What do I smell? And what do I feel? Maybe I can feel like a button on my shirt and just feel like three different textures. And those are very simple grounding techniques that you can do where nobody even knows you're doing them. Same with the breathing. Another thing with the breath is, you can breathe in through your nose and then exhale like you're breathing out through a straw and making that exhale longer than your inhale. And these are just little things that like no one's gonna know that you're doing them.
Karen Ortman [00:32:52] Really great advice. I’m thinking about doing it.
Ashton Colby [00:32:54] But really like you're actually turning on this rest and digest state of being that we are very, you know, overstimulated and then in layering on like the kind of tinge of internal pain that comes with, like, if you just got misgendered or something like that, like I consciously tell myself I try to have some discernment when I notice that and I offer that people to kind of notice when that's happening. If someone says something that maybe triggers you, can you name maybe like three or four sensations that you feel in your body? Are you sweating? Is your heart rate increasing? Are you feeling hot, you know, are you feeling it in your chest? Are you feeling it in your legs? Where are you feeling it in your body? And just notice that. And even just bringing awareness to it kind of takes the pressure off of it because we - that's a norm. Those are normal responses. I think when that happens, we're like, what's happening? And just know, like, someone did say something that hurt you. That's OK that these things are happening now in your body. Then I tell myself, even before I start the breath or the grounding or anything, I say, I ask myself, like, am I in any immediate danger right now? And even bringing awareness to that, I can consciously tell my body, like, you know, that nervous system response served a purpose when we were running from, you know, animals and stuff. And it still helps us. Now, today's, you know, crossing the street or whatever we need, we don't have and our nervous system does respond the same way to perceived threats when someone misgenders us because it could escalate into other things. We've seen violence and stuff. But so it makes sense that something as simple as misgendering brings that heightened stress response, like that's why I have so much compassion for that, because we are as transgender people moving through the world very fearful and rightfully so of like, how is the world perceiving us? Are we safe? And beyond that. But then we don't have to live in that fearful state all the time. Even if those things happen.
Oatile Ramsey [00:35:33] I do like all the advice that you gave us, all very tangible, and I appreciate it and I'm sure a lot of the listeners will too. Do you have any - in your experiences, do you have anything you want people to take into account when looking for a therapist or for a doctor? Is there anything particular they should be paying attention to? If they want somebody that could really interest their specific needs.
Ashton Colby [00:35:59] You know, I just did a simple kind of Google research to find my therapist, but then I had to try on a few different ones. First one wasn't affirming, didn't - even though they said they had advertised that they support that, they just weren't for me. Just really just didn't see that it was so much more than just the surgery for me. It was so much more than the body for me. It was more about me being Ashton and I already was that person and I just needed their support in getting there, I didn't need them to, you know, pathologize my trans-ness in any way. And so I had to know and I had to have some discernment of like, does this feel right in my body? Does this person feel like they're really supporting me with the best intentions? And if not, like, I did have to be my own kind of patient advocate and say, you know, this just isn't how I know as a trans person or any patient or any client that I deserve to be treated this way. And I found other resources, found other doctors and clinics and things that really are affirming. They are out there. They're the people that are making entire clinics just in their wings and departments there for LGBTQ people because they're realizing, like, this population is so underserved in so many ways and has so many barriers with getting their basic needs met for a lot of different reasons, health care included. But just listen to your instincts and to, you know, I want to validate that if somebody just has to stick with a crappy doctor or therapist just to get their prescription and move on and whatever and that’s the only thing they have available, don't internalize any of that and know that you do deserve to be treated better. But, you know, sometimes you do. We're still having a thing where very often trans people just kind of have to work with what they've got. But this is such a beautiful emerging field of medicine where endocrinologists and all that are really just like so excited to really like get out of the trying to cure people or fix them. It's really like, wow, like we're seeing profound changes of people just like vastly improving the quality of life. Like that's the kind of medicine I want to be in. So it's exciting.
Karen Ortman [00:38:49] If you could speak to your younger self knowing everything that you know now, what advice would you give yourself?
Ashton Colby [00:38:59] That when people tell you to love yourself, it's not just the, like, “Oh, tell yourself, I love you or I like you” or affirm myself in that way. It's really like, loving yourself is the feeling that - we all have someone, or maybe it's a pet that we can, like, look at or think or bring to mind and we can have that felt internal sense of like, “Wow, I love that person” and we can so easily call that up and feel it in our heart and everything. But do we allow ourselves space to really feel that for ourselves? It's like, I don't have to wait to feel that and give that to myself. I can really feel into that now. And I'm in a transition and I'm gonna be okay. And I'm gonna be able to, like, look in the mirror and be able to see a person that I - I mean, even now, I get emotional, I get choked up because I very specifically, you know, seven and a half, almost eight years ago now, knew I would get to this place. And then actually finally being here, it's just. I knew I would get here, but then to be here -
Karen Ortman [00:40:37] And where is that?
Ashton Colby [00:40:40] Just a person that is just happy and whole and complete in all areas of my life and and, again, not just with my body, but like with my mental health, my emotional health, my spiritual well-being, my relationships with people in the sense of purpose and fulfillment that I find and in my career and helping people and serving in that way. And I would just tell my younger self that, like, enjoy the process and don't wait to cultivate joy in your life and find avenues that are fulfilling. And when you feel helpless, help someone else and it's gonna be okay.
Karen Ortman [00:41:28] You love yourself?
Ashton Colby [00:41:29] Yeah, but that's a practice, too. It's totally a daily practice that really - I have a lot of compassion for myself now that that's a skill and I would tell myself to be gentle with myself. And that's something I still tell myself today, is just, be gentle with yourself, like the gentleness that you would give to like a puppy or to a child if they were distressed, like, can I give that gentleness to myself? And that's what I really want to take away.
Oatile Ramsey [00:42:02] Honestly, I am so happy for you. I think that's that's hard to do. No matter who you are to just find that real peace of mind. I wonder, given that sort of peace you found, where you see whether you believe things will improve for the transgender, gender-nonconforming, gender-queer or non-binary community in the near-future.
Ashton Colby [00:42:30] Yeah, I feel a lot of momentum in a positive direction. I know that things seem very chaotic at large in the world right now and with the trans community, with all the visibility that's coming out, it's really good. But then it's, in a lot of ways shining a spotlight. And there's been a lot of things that have been really distressing that we've seen in the news and all of that. And so I would say that for me, I think the analogy I always use is that it's like cleaning your room and your mom is like, or you parent or your guardian is like, I need you to clean your room and you're like, OK, I'm gonna clean my room. And so you start pulling your dirty socks out from underneath your bed and you start, you know, putting piles of clothes on your bed. You know, you do the whole thing. And they come in three hours later and they're like, this looks worse than it did when I told you to clean it three hours ago. And you're like, I promise, I'm like, halfway through. Like, I made so much progress. It just looks worse. And in that process, you have to kind of smell a few dirty socks and throw it in either a clean or a dirty pile. And you have to shake things up a little bit. And ultimately, you know, you give it a little bit more time and your mom comes back, then, another three hours later and is like, OK, you’re right, it's looking so much better. And that's kind of where we're at right now, is where we're kind of -
Karen Ortman [00:44:06] Dusting things off?
Ashton Colby [00:44:08] Yeah, we're having to see what works and what doesn't in the world at large. And that looks like exploring a lot of things with identity. And so I have a lot of faith that it's totally moving in the right direction because I ultimately see, like, we're becoming more compassionate, we're becoming less violent as a whole, as a humankind. We are. And people are really becoming more aware that we can't do this alone. And we have to really find common ground. And that is - it's gonna be alright. I truly believe that.
Oatile Ramsey [00:44:52] That’s perfect. I'm not gonna lie, I might have to steal that analogy. I'll quote you, though, I'll make sure I give you your cred. And with that, I'm wondering, we've touched on a lot of different topics, but is there anything you feel like we might have missed or not quite addressed yet that you’d like to touch on?
Ashton Colby [00:45:20] I just want to see transgender people thrive. I just want to see it be so much more about just transitioning. But really, I want to hit this one home, that it's about thriving in every single area of your life.
Oatile Ramsey [00:45:36] Thank you. And then one final thing, you did mention that you hosted classes and all these events. I don't know if you want to plug in how people can become aware of these events.
Ashton Colby [00:45:49] So I teach classes in central Ohio and they’re donation-based and so they’re free if you really can't afford them. Instagram is probably the best way to connect with me. It's just Ashton James Colby. My organization for doing these kinds of works, with doing these media consulting and training and doing mindfulness based emotional resilience skills, and why I can do the yoga for free and stuff is, my organization's Gender Youphoria. And it's spelled Y-O-U, Gender Youphoria. And it's all about flipping the narratives and a lot of ways on the body, in the media and all that. And that's just Gender Youphoria on Instagram or genderyouphoria.com. or ashtoncolby.com, all those beautiful things.
Karen Ortman [00:46:43] Thank you for the work that you do.
Ashton Colby [00:46:44] Thank you. Yeah, I had a great time. Thanks.
Oatile Ramsey [00:46:48] All right. And with that, thank you to our guest, Ashton, and to all of our listeners for joining us for today's episode of “You Matter”. Please share, like, and subscribe to “You Matter” on Apple podcasts, Google Play or Spotify.