I am a centaur, half-human and half-horse, and this is my plea to all fellow horsemen and the allies who support us: for far too many millennia, we have been systematically sidelined and shamed by the pervasive human-normative society that surrounds us, and it’s time we speak out against this culture of oppression.
If things are going to change, we must work to broaden the cultural definition of what a centaur can be—and that starts with the media. The majority of horse-human representations in our mainstream media come in the form of intricately chiseled marble statues, and this sets up highly unrealistic beauty standards for the average centaur—who likely does not have conventionally perfect abs or a massive phallus. To uniformly show the centaur in this way serves to sexualize and objectify the entire group. Furthermore, media representations almost exclusively portray the centaur as a hunter or a warrior, which sends the message that those are the only careers available to individuals of horsehair. Where are our centaur lawyers, our dental hygienists, our political essayists?
Language is also crucial when it comes to systematically oppressing those who are centaurially aligned. For example, every time someone uses the expression, “I have to piss like a racehorse,” that is a micro-aggression against us centaurs, who are unfairly urine-shamed for the size of our bladders. Speaking of, it’s time we do away with our practice of segregating bathrooms according to the human-centaur binary. It’s nothing short of an insult that one facility is an enclosed room with a flushing toilet and a sink and the other is an open field where we centaurs are expected to publicly relieve ourselves in full view of strangers, friends and co-workers. It’s both dehumanizing and dehorsizing.
We must, of course, also remember that aggression doesn’t always come from outside the group. Within the centaur community itself, there is far too much marginalizing of trans-centaur individuals—both in terms of those who choose to undergo equine-reassignment surgery and those who simply buy a horse costume and wear the bottom half around town. It’s also imperative that we learn to accept the centaur who feels he should have been born fully-horse, and allow this CTH to communicate in the manner most natural to him—which is why we need to educate more cishuman and ciscentaur individuals in the language of the whinny and the bray. And as more and more individuals are choosing to identify as centaurfuck, our willingness to accept this description must become equally as fluid.
As a metaphor, the centaur needs to be redefined. It isn’t helpful for the group to stand in for the concept of a liminal being, caught between two competing natures. In order for the centaur community to truly be at peace with its identity, we must reevaluate the way our history is taught. We are not simply analogy for the struggle between the lofty mind and the base body, no matter how many times we have heard this notion reinforced.
Before we can address any of the issues listed above, however, we must take a look at the single most detrimental thing our community faces—a pervasive and suffocating myth culture that perpetuates the idea that centaurs are actually just imaginary creatures. More than anything else, we need to stop implying that the centaur does not really exist. Because there is absolutely nothing more marginalizing than that.
Liana Maeby’s first novel, South on Highland, will be out this summer. In the meantime, follow her on Twitter.