As a child, I was what some would call a tomboy, clad in baggy hand-me-downs while leaping from trees onto trampolines and rubbing my palms bloody on monkey bars. Growing up in the 1990s, I was fed a two-faced tale: I was simultaneously encouraged to cast my aspirations high above me while being repeatedly reminded that my dreams, mannerisms, and actions were “wrong” by consequence of my sex. I cannot remember a time in my childhood that was not coloured by the societal presumption that my femininity was a preexisting condition that rendered me weak.
Circus became a part of my life when I was ten-year-old. My fifth grade teacher was a retired clown who taught me how to juggle fire and quickly became my life raft when doors closed in my face because I, along with half the population, had seemingly lost the genetic lottery. When I was told I couldn’t try out for American football or climb the rope in gym class because I was a girl, I channeled that frustration into perfecting pull ups so I could climb a rope without my legs. I quickly learned that being female didn’t mean my dreams were unachievable, but it certainly meant I would have to work twice as hard to prove I was worthy of a seat at the table. ...
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