On Friday, November 16, 2018, fourteen Columbus area residents will become part of the TEDxColumbus community when they present their talks for On the Edge.
Meet Ashton Colby:
Transgender entrepreneur, activist promotes positive body narrative
In a society über-obsessed with outward physical appearances, it’s easy for anyone to feel “less than” from time to time. For those in the transgender community, the struggle is magnified by a negative narrative that plays in their subconscious on an infinite loop.
Ashton Colby had to face – and embody – the diagnosis of gender dysphoria (GD) to get the help he needed from the medical community to live his life authentically. Although the diagnosis can grant access to insurance coverage and medical procedures, it also carries with it the emotional burden of being labeled as someone who is impaired or ill or suffering.
“As a trans person, you know you need surgery and hormones to look how you really feel on the inside. You have to get a letter from a psychiatrist to gain access to that. You have to prove to them that you have GD,” Colby explained. “You have to say things like, ‘I hate my body,’ to get the diagnosis, when it’s so much more nuanced than that. I just simply am transgender. There’s nothing broken that needs to be fixed.”
Colby’s transition from female pageant queen to transgender man is well documented through his popular YouTube channel, Beyond the Body, where he shares that the physical aspects of being transgender reflect just half the story. Beneath the surface lies an internal struggle fueled by existing in a state of “dysphoria” to justify the diagnosis.
“I started to internalize a narrative of hate based on what I needed to prove to doctors. I started to really believe those things,” he reflected. “If I can’t feel permission to feel joy with my body, then how can I experience joy in any other aspect of my life?”
Physical milestones – like building muscles – didn’t have the panacea affect he anticipated. Instead, he sensed a growing disconnect between his outward appearance and his emotional and spiritual fulfillment.
“By 2015 I had been presenting as a man for three and a half years. I reached a place where there was post-op depression,” he said. “I had facial hair and my chest was flat, but I wasn’t pursuing other surgeries. I hit a ‘what now?’ moment.”
Colby recognized that, in order to feel truly present in his new body, he needed to build mental, spiritual and emotional bridges; and he knew he wasn’t alone in his journey.
He will soon launch an online platform aimed at sharing powerful messages and information to help those in the transgender community reframe the narrative and align all aspects of their lives through gender expression.
“We’re not trying to fix something that’s broken,” he added. “We all have permission to experience joy and cultivate joy and appreciate our bodies and have a sense of love for our bodies throughout the whole process.”
Ashton Colby, 26, is a social entrepreneur, certified yoga teacher, YouTuber and writer from Columbus, Ohio. He began his gender transition in 2012 and has since become a spiritual bridge-builder, reimagining the traditional media narratives of what it means to be transgender. He regularly speaks at high schools and universities. His story and YouTube channel, Beyond the Body, have been featured on People.com, Today.com and many other media outlets. As a social entrepreneur, Ashton founded Gender YOUphoria, a movement that flips the script on the diagnosis of gender dysphoria. GenderYOUphoria.com is set to launch later this year.
Want to know more? Purchase tickets through Ticketmaster or by calling the CAPA Box Office at 614-469-0939.