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    GRATEFUL: Vixen Arrowsmith was fearful of returning to Horsham after ‘coming out’ but has been grateful for the positive experiences and level of acceptance of gender diversity. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Vixen is confident in identity

Moving back to Horsham in 2019, Vixen Arrowsmith was initially scared about how the community would view ‘them’ after ‘coming out’. 

Vixen, 19, identifies as transmasculine non-binary, which means ‘they’ were assigned female at birth, but identify with masculinity to a greater extent than femininity.  

‘Non-binary’ is a spectrum of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine. Some non-binary people prefer to use gender-neutral pronouns, most commonly, singular use of ‘they’, ‘their’ and ‘them’. 

Growing up in Horsham, Vixen spent their younger years searching for a true identity. 

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It was not until moving to Geelong in year-nine that Vixen would come out and open up to the world.

On returning to Horsham last year, Vixen was surprised to see the rural city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and questioning, LGBTIQ, community had grown since departing. 

Vixen said they could not see themselves living anywhere else, while the level of acceptance of gender diversity had significantly improved. 

“I’ve been confident of my identity for many years now. I was less confident with how people would react in Horsham,” they said. 

“I’ve had more positive reactions here than anywhere else I’ve lived.

“It’s definitely gotten better from when I was younger – there’s been a lot of amazing feedback not only from the LGBTIQ community in the region but also people who aren’t in that community.” 

But Vixen said the journey had not been without confrontation. 

“I’ve had a few slurs and discriminatory terms when I’ve been out at the pub with friends, which can be heartbreaking, but for me, I tend to be able to let it roll off my back,” they said.  

Vixen said in their early teens while in the Wimmera, they felt a need to conceal a large part of their identity – their gender. 
Vixen said this led to feeling socially displaced throughout primary and early secondary schooling.

“Growing up it was very confusing, I didn’t talk about it because it was such a foreign feeling,” they said. 

“In year five when we started talking about sex education I was very distraught because I had this image that I would go through more of a biological male’s puberty range – learning that was not my case, I got very upset.

“I remember telling my friends and they looked at me so confused and like I was a foreign object.” 

Vixen said starting to find clarity and confidence as a 14-year-old had followed years of struggle. 

“It was a very hard and confusing journey – I would come out as gay, then I would come out as bi and then I discovered that sexuality and gender-identity were not the same,” they said. 

“I found those resources and connections when was 14 and educated myself and had the realisation that I’m trans and that’s when I came out.” 

Vixen said they hoped sharing their story would help anyone struggling through a similar journey.

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The entire May 20, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!