Let's Talk: LGBTQIA+ and labels with Ruby Wyatt-Carter

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Let’s Talk: Ruby Wyatt-Carter shares their story for Pride Month. Photo by Megan Fisher

Through years of questioning, gender dysphoria and uncertainties surrounding who they are, Ruby Wyatt-Carter found peace in a label.

While they acknowledge that for some it can be limiting, for them, identifying has added a layer of knowing.

“It's been a long, long journey with my gender and I've only recently, like this year, decided non-binary is the word for me,” they said.

“It took a long time to figure out what label suits me best and then when I found that, I felt like I found who I was.

“But for other people, finding a label might feel stressful and unnecessary and in that case, it is unnecessary.”

Ruby said they had lived a constant battle of finding their place in the world.

At school, they felt as though they never quite fit in, constantly questioning and comparing themselves to others.

“None of the other girls had short hair, every other girl wore sleeveless shirts and I didn’t do that — I still don’t do that,” they said.

“All the other girls had to wear this (bathers) when we were swimming, and I can’t wear that kind of thing and I just felt like such an outsider.

“I always just thought, ‘all the others girl do this and I can’t’.”

When Ruby was 11 years old, their mum joined Goulburn Valley’s Out in the Open committee.

Ruby said their mum had always been their biggest supporter.

“I guess that was sort of my first real exposure to that world. Prior to that, I sort of knew what it was, but didn't really know that much about it,“ they said.

Two years on, Ruby began properly questioning their sexuality and at around 14 years old, they were certain of their bisexuality.

Though they “knew it was going to be okay”, the experience of coming out was fraught with feelings of confusion and societal pressures of what it “should” look like.

“I told my mum and I was bawling my eyes out, I knew that my mum was going to be okay with it,“ she said.

“For me, it was a big emotional thing, but for Mum, it was like ‘no, it’s okay, it’s fine’.”

During this time, uncertainty began to swell.

Intense feelings of gender dysphoria crept in.

Going to a Catholic school in the region, girls were to wear dresses — Ruby was the catalyst for change.

In Year 9, they approached staff with concerns over inclusivity and were met with a surprisingly receptive response.

Identity: “It's been a long, long journey with my gender,” Ruby says. Photo by Megan Fisher

The uniform was gradually changed in a compromise that allowed students to wear skorts and now, years on, the school has given all students the same school-wear options — pants, shorts and the like.

“I just think it's really important to see that Catholic schools can do this and still follow their Catholic beliefs,” Ruby said.

“That you can be accepting of everyone and progressive and still follow your Catholic beliefs — it's not one or the other.

“People can’t use religion as an excuse to discriminate, because it’s not an excuse.”

During this time, they went to appointments in Melbourne to look into the possibility of transitioning and beginning testosterone.

“Around that period of time, I couldn’t handle the word ‘she’ being used in reference to me, there was a lot I couldn’t handle,” they said.

“I don't experience it as much anymore, it's still there are some days where I wake up and I'm like, ‘Oh, it's a dysphoria day’, but not nearly as bad as it was when I was a teenager.”

On the days when dysphoria is largely apparent, Ruby said the pieces of themselves that were seen as feminine were often their demise.

“The fact that I have a chest, that fact I have prominent hips, just everything about the shape of my body and my voice,” they said.

“Anything that you would normally have associated with women would like mentally destroy me.”

Once reaching legal age, Ruby began covering their skin with artwork.

Piercings and tattoos became a release to make them feel more comfortable in their body.

“Not to say tattoos are a solution to dysphoria, but it made me just like the way my body looks,” they said.

Eighteen months ago, at 19 years old, they were involved in a car accident that left them in hospital for 68 days.

The left side of their body was severely injured, suffering multiple broken bones and trauma to the body, including their neck and femur.

Art: Ruby’s tattoos have made them feel more comfortable. Photo by Megan Fisher

Ruby spent their 20th birthday in recovery in hospital.

The accident has left them with long-lasting trauma and rehabilitation, but also took its toll on the identity they’d created for themselves by leaving lasting scarring on their body and tattoos.

On returning home, although with challenges, they found a sense of solace.

“All of that time alone, I was able to really solidify how I feel like who, who I actually am, and even though it's a very lonely period of time, I felt like I kind of needed that,” they said.

“Just away from everyone and everything, because I wasn't back at work yet. I needed that time just to really figure it out.”

Ruby has since come out as non-binary, going by she/they pronouns, and their advice to others questioning themselves is to find their people.

“Not everyone would be able to do this, but to surround yourself with people who will accept you no matter what,” they said.

∎ Caitlyn Grant and Megan Fisher are opening the conversation with their new weekly column, Let’s Talk. June is Pride Month and we would like to share your stories; if you or someone you know has a story, contact or