Category Archives: TQ Nation Exclusive Interviews

Natural Transitioning: An FTM Alternative [Second Edition]

product_thumbnailNatural Transitioning™ (NT) was founded by Tristan Skye in 2008. It is the process of transitioning from female to male (FTM) by raising the testosterone levels your body naturally produces without injecting synthetic testosterone.

In this book, you will uncover years of dedicated research that is documented in multiple medical journals, and my personal experience as a transgender man developing this alternative method of transitioning.

This second edition is much different from the first, almost opposite, and takes a truly natural, holistic approach, with guidance from naturopathic doctors (from both the United States and Canada), Chinese medical practitioners and herbalists.

Not only is this a guide book that will help you transition without synthetic hormones, it is also a guide book to help you achieve a greater health for your overall being, including supplements, diet and fitness.

Purchase your copy today: click here

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Chaz Bono Interviewed by Tristan Skye of TQ Nation

Original (non-edited) article:
This year, people from across the globe traveled to Atlanta, GA for the Southern Comfort Conference (SCC), which focuses on the Transgender community.

As stated on their website, www.sccatl.org:
“Whatever your connection to the Transgender community – whether you are transsexual, a cross dresser or in between; a spouse, a partner or a family member; straight, gay, bi or omni-sexual; post-op, pre-op or non-op; young or old; married or single; FtM or MtF – if Transgender is an issue in your life, you are welcome!”

SCC celebrated their 20th anniversary this year with the theme “Party Hearty” and it took place at the Crown Plaza Ravinia Hotel September 6th – 12th. The efforts of all who helped with the planning of this conference paid off as it proved to be a very successful event. Special thanks extended to Blake Alford (President of Board of Directors) and Alexis Dee (2010 SCC Conference Chair).

The conference consists of daily informational seminars covering everything from renowned surgeons discussing their procedures to open discussions of a variety of topics pertaining to Transgender life. The seminars focus more on individual needs and the topics are more defined focusing in on either MTF, FTM, Intersexed or SOFFA’s, with some being all-inclusive.

On Thursday of SCC, a TransHealth Fair was provided which included many low-cost services and multiple free options, including HIV/STD testing and Flu shots. The Feminist Women’s Health Center hosted this event. We appreciate their support in helping to provide a bridge to close the gap with TransHealth issues.

Apart from the gourmet dining in the ballroom, scheduled events from morning until evening allowed everyone to meet and socialize. Some popular events included karaoke in the hotel lounge, casino night, Miss Kitty Meow’s pool party and the SCC formal dance, just to name a few. A shuttle was also available to take adventurers shopping at Perimeter Mall and on Saturday evening, many traveled to the New Le Buzz in Marietta where everyone felt very welcome and included.

A marketplace was setup in one part of the hotel that included vendors selling jewelry, hair essentials, clothing and accessories. There were also many make-up artists on site, including Atlanta’s own Bianca Nicole, the Goddess of Seduction. Other booths, including TQ Nation, Lambda Legal, YouthPride and others were spread out outside of the marketplace and lobby area.

One of the main highlights this year included the appearance of Trans-celebrity and advocate of sorts, Chaz Bono, who also participated in many of the events and even hosted one seminar on Media Activism Training with GLAAD Media Awards Communications Manager, Nick Adams.

Chaz mingled with the crowd each day and was very gracious with socializing. He even stood with a smile for non-stop photo-ops with those attending SCC. A documentary film crew followed him pretty much everywhere, yet I was able to set aside a time for him to speak to me exclusively for the readers of The GA Voice.

Tristan Skye: You have been an advocate for the Gay and Lesbian community for many years and now the Transgender community. What are the main goals you are trying to reach and is there a certain topic that is your main focus and priority?

Chaz Bono: In truth, I haven’t thought that much about that yet. I have been really focused on getting these projects [upcoming book, film and documentary] out and done. I also didn’t know anything about the Trans community. In the years that it took to get here that I knew I was Trans, but didn’t have the courage to transition, I really stayed away from the Trans community on purpose. I was afraid of the story getting out before I was ready for it. I have just been taking time and stepping back and seeing what the community’s needs are. With that said, one thing that immediately comes to mind is ENDA. That’s what got me involved in politics to begin with way back in 1995. That is something I have always wanted to see passed, I still want to see passed, but want to see passed with transgender people included. The only other stuff I’ve gotten really into is really young trans people. And one of the things I’m pretty interested in, especially for the kids and it’s not going to happen overnight, but seeing surgical requirements taken out of what you need to do to change your name and gender legally.

Tristan Skye: Yes, I think that’s great. I personally feel the Transgender community has looked for a type of spokesperson, a hero of sorts that can represent us in a very positive light and receive International attention and recognition. Now that you have come out as a Transgender advocate into the public eye, portraying and reflecting us in such a positive way, how do you feel about being seen as that hero for the Transgender community and being that person that can really help take us to where we need to be?

Chaz Bono: Okay, it’s a little complicated. First of all, on the one hand I’m very pragmatic and you know I do know the importance of having someone that is a public figure out there. It really does make a difference and I’m really happy to do it. Personally, in my personal life, I do not feel like a celebrity, especially growing up with huge celebrities. I’ve always tried to walk a tight rope between being public enough to do some good and private enough to have a life and just feel normal. Personally, my goal was never to be really famous – I kind of got born into this thing – I’ve had to make the best of it. I’ve seen, especially within the Gay and Lesbian community we see really clearly what having different people come out does and so I do hope for the Trans community I can do that. I hope that me coming out about this and transitioning publically will help people who haven’t found the courage to transition yet most of all. There are some great people who speak for us in the community and most of them are ladies, so it’s nice to have Jamison Green who is just amazing, and it’s nice to be another guy out there a little bit younger for all the guys out there and especially the up and coming guys.

Tristan Skye: That’s very true. I noticed in your seminar with Nick Adams, GLAAD Media Awards Communications Manager, that there was one question that was asked, “who first heard the word Transgender or first saw someone Transgender from the media?” and I noticed that even you raised your hand. I wondered if you wouldn’t mind telling me who was the first Transgender person you can recall that you saw in the media?

Chaz Bono: I think I’m sure the first Transgender person that I heard of was either Christine Jorgensen or Renee Richards when I was really young and didn’t really think about it. But, for me I’ve kind of tracked down when I started to realize I was Trans and it was about a year after “Boys Don’t Cry” came out. Though I didn’t have like an “Ah-Ha!” moment, I think that really did have an effect and really soak into my subconscious and I don’t think it was an accident that happened. It also seemed around that time, and maybe a little bit before and definitely after, there seemed to be all this news coming from San Francisco about all these guys transitioning and that was definitely being reported atleast in the gay media. You know, where are all the butches going…all the butches are becoming guys and stuff, so that is around the time, around 2000, I think when I started to figure out what was going on with me. To me, it’s definitely the media…I don’t think there is a stronger advocate tool than the medi. I really understood that working with GLAAD and I still believe that is where you get the most done is in the court of public opinion and that’s through the media.
Overall, this event ended with great success as it provided a place for those to be themselves, especially for those who traveled from areas where they feel they still must hide their true expression of gender. It was a moment in time where the “T” in LGBTQQIA was not silent, where the Transgender community could feel like the majority, not the minority. It is such an impactful conference, that once it ends, you can’t wait for it to begin again. Until next year, my brothers and sisters, be safe and keep advocating.

Written by Tristan “Shimmer” Skye
http://www.transqueernation.com President and Co-Founder
“Best Transgender Rights Activist” – Southern Voice (2009), The GA Voice (2010)

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TQ Nation Exclusive VIDEO Interview: Mark Angelo Cummings

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TQ Nation EXCLUSIVE Interview: Jamison Green

TQ Nation recently had the honor to recognize a man who helped plant the tree we sit underneath today. To me, he is someone beyond a “celebrity”, he is a man who has fought the battles for many years to help bring change to the transgender community. I believe the mere words “thank you” are not enough to mark the legacy he lives.

Jamison Green, most-notably acclaimed for his book Becoming a Visible Man (2004), won the 2004 Sylvia Rivera Award for Best Book in Transgender Studies from the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies. It was also a finalist for a 2004 Lambda Literary Award. One of the most quotable passages of his novel states, “there is no right way to be trans.”

Not only is Jamison Green a writer, he is also an inspirational educator for transgender health, civil rights, social safety, dignity and respect.

Born in Oakland, California in 1948, Green began his female-to-male (FTM) transition in 1988 while employed with Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Since then, he has paved the way in the Transgender Rights Movement for decades as he led FTM International, Inc. (March 1991 to August 1999) and currently serves on the board of directors for the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, among other nonprofit educational organizations.

He authored a ‘transformational’ document in 1994 entitled “Report on Discrimination Against Transgendered People” for the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. This served as the foundation for not only the protective legislation in the City and County of San Fran, but also the agenda for the contemporary trans movement.

Green was the first transman named “our best and brightest activists” in 1999 by The Advocate magazine and was also the first transsexual to be awarded the Distinguished Service Award (May 2009) from the Association of Gay & Lesbian Psychiatrists for his numerous contributions to LGBT mental health.

Green has educated across the globe, authored a monthly column for PlanetOut.com and has been in a dozen or more documentary films, including the award-winning “You Don’t Know Dick: Courageous Hearts of Transsexual Men” (1996).

Personally, it’s difficult to put into words the greatness of this one man. His solo achievements are so many that you could easily spread them out to ten to twenty others and they would still be looked on as “above average”.

It is people like Jamison Green that deserve honor and recognition. For us, they are true heroes. They fight battles and win wars that help us be where we are today. Their victories enable us to stand tall and be proud. They have been our champions and our mentors for us to carry out their legacy for our future generations.

This interview you are about to read is not just about anyone, it’s about a man that helped re-sculpt our world and make it a brighter place. He stands for the epitome of everything I hold true and dear to my heart and soul.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

TQ: What do you believe has been your biggest role or accomplishment that has benefited the transgendered community?

JG: I’ve been really fortunate to have a long list of accomplishments, but I think the most important thing I’ve done that has had long-term impact was leading FTM International in the way that did in the early and mid-1990s.  I encouraged trans people to be visible in a way that had never been done before; I encouraged trans men, in particular, to become politically active and to build coalitions with trans women;  I encouraged trans men to hold the first FTM-focused conference in the U.S. (and to share the power of doing that kind of community building with groups in other cities; and I took the organization into the arena of politics by using it as a platform to influence legislative changes in San Francisco and in California, which are still having impact around the world.  I tried to be conscientious of the needs of others, to encourage others to actualize their goals and dreams, and to be responsive to people in an ethic of service to community.  I also cultivated high standards of accuracy, honesty, reliability, and inclusiveness.  I think that effort, even though most of it was unseen by others, has had the most far-reaching beneficial effect for the trans communit(ies).

TQ: What is the most triumphant thing you would like to see happen in your lifetime within our community?

JG: When I think of the word ‘triumphant’ with respect to our community, I think of a moment in which as many trans people as humanly possible (nearly) simultaneously feel the power of affirmation, relief, and joy all at once.  What could cause that in my lifetime?  I think it would have to be the election of a trans person to an important position of leadership – like Congress, or the presidency, or as an influential leader in another major country – and our collective realization that any dehumanizing ridicule that followed was being viewed as a completely fringe reaction.  That would be pretty triumphant, I think.

TQ: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

JG: In 10 years I will be 71 years old, but I want to still be able to backpack in the Sierra.  I would still like to be writing and speaking, maybe doing less but making more money than I do now (I hope!).  I’d like to be able to take a vacation now and then (so would my wife!).  And I’d like to be associated with a world-class research and education institution or organization, tapped into the engines of social change, so I can continue to make a creative contribution to both the intellectual and the practical world.

TQ: Who is the one person that has played the most significant and positive role in your life? Why?

JG: I think I would have to say my father.  He taught me a lot about how to relate to the world, he taught me how to develop my values, and he taught me how to learn from my mistakes.  He was a real gentleman; he knew how to appreciate his surroundings, he was modest, he knew how to laugh, and he was kind.  People loved him.  My mother loved him, and he loved her.  And even though he and I didn’t always agree about things—and sometimes we fought furiously!—I always knew I could rely on him, and he appreciated my independent spirit.

TQ: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far in life?

JG: I once dreamed of winning the Nobel Prize for Literature and the Nobel Peace Prize.  I had planned to win at least one of those by the time I was 25.  When I hit 25 and realized I was very far from ever achieving those honors, I realized I needed to change my expectations.

Ultimately, I’ve come to realize that, for all the political, altruistic, and progressive work I’ve done, and for all the energy I’ve applied to creating change in the world, and all the awards I’ve been given, I believe my greatest achievement so far in life has been raising my two children to be good people.  My daughter is 25, and my son will be 21 this month.  I love them so much, and I am so proud of them.

I feel like the thing that makes human existence important is love; and parental love has a unique possibility to be truly unconditional.  To see the effects of one’s love manifested in the world by beings that are separate from you, whose imaginations and capacities and accomplishments may far exceed your own, and to know that what you have done with your love is good, is utterly humbling.  And though it is not the kind of achievement for which I will ever receive an award or a prize, I feel my children’s goodness is the most human –and therefore greatest—achievement of my life.

TQ: Being a face in the “limelight”, what types of privacy or safety concerns have you faced? How did you deal with them?

JG: I used to worry about privacy and safety a lot more than I do now.  There have been times when I’ve gone places to speak where I’ve wished I had a body-guard, and once when I brought a good friend who was an off-duty police officer who I knew could watch my back effectively.  But I’ve learned that unless we are breaking the law, or being deliberately antagonistic or obnoxious, we (as trans people) usually don’t attract as much public attention as we might imagine we do.  I try to relax and not to take up too much space in the world.  I just try to do what’s right and what’s good, be considerate of others, and otherwise I mind my own business, and encourage others to do the same.  That policy has kept me pretty much out of trouble.  I realize things are different for some trans women, and I’m mindful of those discrepancies.  I also want to say that I know how it feels to be taunted, publicly ridiculed, punched and beaten because you are trans – it’s just that for me those things happened before I transitioned instead of during or after my transition.  And that, to me, is indicative of the sexism in our society.  I don’t want people to misinterpret my current ability to be relaxed in public as the simple result of male privilege conferred by testosterone.  My experience in public is much more nuanced than that, and my awareness of trans issues much more complex than that.  It’s also true—now—that my age has an effect on how I’m perceived and noticed or not noticed depending on the context in which I find myself.

I do get recognized in public sometimes, but it’s usually by people who want to say “thank you.”  I’ve never been approached by anyone negative.  The only ‘death threat’ I ever received was from another trans man who I think was having a bad day.  I’ve received email from a few fundamentalist ministers who want me to “stop trying to destroy gender,” and I either ignore it or if I feel up to engaging with them I’ll tell them that’s not what I’m about and I encourage them to read my book.  I never heard from them again.  But I’ve been on an airplane with several people reading copies of a newspaper with a life-size photo of my face on the front page, and no one recognized me or said anything to me, not even the flight attendants.

TQ: What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

JG: Don’t expect to get rich doing this work, but if you truly care for people you can be richly rewarded in the form of connections and opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives.  Show up, care about others, and have integrity.  That’s what I’ve tried to do.

TQ: What inspired you to write the book “Becoming a Visible Man”?

JG: Many people inspired me to write the book because so many people seemed to be touched by the passion with which I spoke (years ago) about the dignity of trans lives, and the struggles that trans people endured to find their individual balance and get their needs met in the face of complete rejection.  I think there are many people now who have no clue what it was like before the internet to get reliable information about transition.  And there were just a handful of books available that had any specific information for trans people who were male-identified.  I knew I could reach more people with the book than I could reach one-on-one, and a book has a kind of intimacy that allows people to take in information gradually and really absorb it.  I was really happy that Vanderbilt University Press was interested in publishing it, because university presses keep their books in print much longer than commercial publishers, and I knew it would take a while for people to find the book (because reviewers don’t pay much attention to trans topics), but the book would hold up over time.   I’m proud of the book, and I think it will continue to serve the community for a long time to come (even though some of the information in it will become anachronistic) because it provides a historical context for what have become our community’s foundational issues and goals.  And it’s personal enough to be engaging on an emotional level, too.  I hope someday it will be called a ‘classic.’

TQ: TQ Nation is giving you a personal soap box – What do you want to say? (include your spout outs: vents, complaints, thanks or anything you want people to know)

JG: I want to really thank all the people who were there for me in the beginning of my transition;  I want to thank all those who helped build FTM International in the 90s, and those who took it on after I left.

I want to encourage trans people to cultivate patience – strategic patience.  That doesn’t mean we can’t be passionate, or angry, or sad, or anything else at any given moment.  But what we are asking the world to do in response to us is a huge change, and it will not some quickly or easily.  We’ve made amazing progress in the last 20 years, and that’s been done on the shoulders of some very brave and determined people who have not yet been given the recognition and honor they deserve.

Most of all, I want to express my real love and appreciation for my wife, Heidi, who married me in 2003, and who has been an incredible partner in my work.  She has done so much to support and care for me, to collaborate with me, and to help me think things through.  She also stepped up in an amazing way when the mother of my children passed away two years ago, and helped me and my children deal with all the emotions and practical details of adjusting to the resulting changes in our lives.  Plus, she’s beautiful, smart, sexy, and she has a fabulous sense of humor.  I got so lucky when I met her.  And I want to encourage trans people everywhere who have partners to express your appreciation and love for them.  Don’t let a day go by without doing something that tells them you love them and you value them.

TQ: What upcoming events/writings/documentary films can your fans look forward to in the future?

JG: Right now, I’m finishing a dissertation for a PhD in Law – it’s about the Kantaras Case (a 2002 Florida divorce and child custody case in which a trans man was adjudicated male in the trial court, and then had his maleness taken away by the Court of Appeal).  Ultimately, I’d like to take some of the work I’ve done for that project and tell more of the story of that case in a way that could interest a wide readership.   So that may be a book.  That’ll be a while, though.

I’ll be at a bunch of conferences in the fall of 2010 – mostly professionally-oriented, and I hope to be back on the speaking circuit in 2011.  I think I’ll be keynoting First Event in New England in January 2011, as a starter.  Maybe I’ll have time to update my “upcoming events” listings on my web site before the end of this year!

First I have a book coming out in 2011, probably late summer or early fall, entitled “The FTM Guide to Sexual Health.”  I’m working on that now, but will be focused more on it as soon as the dissertation is done.

I’m also working with the University of California, San Francisco Medical School to develop primary care protocols for physicians treating trans people, and educational programs for physicians to go along with that – this is a great opportunity to improve trans people’s experience and capacity to access primary health care.  It won’t be too visible to the general public, but I hope people will ultimately experience its effects.  You can see some of the great work going on at UCSF at http://www.transhealth.ucsf.edu.  Another similar project I have in the works is leveraging the wins we’ve had in getting employers to negotiate with their health insurance carriers to offer trans-inclusive healthcare plans.  That’s a long, slow process with lots of angles and complications, but it’s something that I believe is important.  My colleague, André Wilson, is doing a lot the leg-work on that project, and he deserves a lot of credit for helping move this issue forward, based on my conviction (proven correct in our win in 2000 for City and County of San Francisco Employees) that the benefit doesn’t have high costs, and that exclusions are based on long-standing prejudice and ignorance.

I’m also working with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, developing position statements that I think the Board of Directors needs to take that will encourage other global institutions to take our health, safety, and civil rights more seriously.  I’m a member of the WPATH Board of Directors (first trans person elected to the Board who was not a medical professional or a lawyer), and I’ll be termed out in the fall of 2011 (after 8 years of service).  I have to decide next year if I want to run for president of the Association, or take a break!

I’m also working with a team of grad students from several universities to analyze the data I collected last year in two surveys on sexual behaviors and sexual health – one survey for trans men, and one for partners of trans men.  There’s enough data for three or four journal papers, and I expect these will be papers that energize the field of sexuality research.

There’s a possibility I may do a second edition (a completely new text) of “Becoming a Visible Man” because my publisher has expressed an interest in that.  That wouldn’t be out before 2012.

I don’t have any film projects in the works.  I’ve never originated any of those; people have always come to me.  I’d love to do more creative work with film and with writing and photography.  Maybe one day I’ll be able to feel like the practical work I’ve seen as needing to be done has played out, and I can get back to being the artist I wanted to be when I was young (or an older version of that artist).  But I sure can’t say I regret doing the practical work I’ve done!  It’s been an honor to be of service to trans people everywhere.  We may not have seen our triumph yet, but together we have already changed the world.

Written by TQ Nation President & Co-Founder,

TRISTAN SKYE

JOIN THE REVOLUTION!

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TQ Nation EXCLUSIVE Interview: Amos Mac

Amos Mac (Photo Credit: Austin Young)

TQ Nation had the marvelous chance to interview the infamous photographer and co-creator/ editor-in-chief of Original Plumbing Magazine, Amos Mac.

Amos Mac is a world renown trans artist who documents a realistic view of the queer community through his camera.  He has been featured in publications like the annual documentary photo book “Cutter”, BUTT magazine, McSweeney’s, Maximum Rock N Roll and in every issue of Original Plumbing.

Original Plumbing is a quartley publication that documents the society of trans males through photography and was inspired by Amos Mac’s vision.  A vision that became his full time reality in June 2009 and hit the stands later that year to become the first ever “magazine dedicated to the culture and sexuality of FTM Transsexuals.”

Amos Mac’s revolutionary vision is unique. Why?  First, it is a dual creation between the great minds of Amos and his co-conspirer Rocco “Katastrophe” Kayiatos, which has combined the forces of two extremely talented and artistic transmen in depicting a very real look into their community that, up until now, has remained hidden.  Most importantly, Original Plumbing is a very intimate and behind the scenes illustration into the lives of female-to-male transsexuals, which has opened the eyes of the world, and for many FtM’s has helped eliminate their feelings of isolation and awkwardness in their own skin.

Fascinated?  Interested in finding out what all the fuss is about? Check out  OP TV, Fan OP on Facebook, Follow OP on Twitter & Amos Mac on Twitter. Of course, you also need to go directly to Amos Mac’s website to keep up with his latest photography, events and news.

When TQ Nation was flushed with the opportunity (*wink*) for an exclusive interview with Original Plumbing’s, Amos Mac, we were honored! We asked 10 questions and received answers that were comedic, to the point and full of his energy. Amos has already made a huge impression within the community and is on his way to establishing the most profound documented historical magazine of our generation.

Not to mention, he’s a TQ Nation citizen!

TQ NATION
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

TQ: What do you believe has been your biggest role or accomplishment that has benefited the transgendered community?

AM: I feel that launching Original Plumbing magazine has benefited the trans male community for sure.  It’s something I’m so proud of, and I had no idea that the response to it would be the way that it has been so far.  It’s giving trans men a space to be highlighted and appreciated and giving us all a soapbox to talk about the issues we feel are relevant, and also it’s just so important to be more visible and acknowledge that we exist and we’re all out there and that we all have different stories. I also feel that my photographs of trans men are important for historical purposes… I’m documenting a culture and a group of men who have not been visible for very long and I’m trying to change that.

TQ: What is the craziest thing one of your fans has ever done to get your attention?

AM: Ha ha! This question makes me feel like a Backstreet Boy or something. My life doesn’t really work that way.  I’m not exactly a performer or someone who is publicly seen on a stage, and the work I do doesn’t exactly warrant a crazy fan base. Does it?  I mean unless I just don’t know about it.  Plus in general I’m the type of person who is very approachable so when fans want to get my attention, they’ll usually just email me or walk up to me at an event.

TQ: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

AM: Still photographing, showing my work and publishing. Documenting queer existence in whatever form it has taken on in ten years.

TQ: Who is the one person that has played the most significant and positive role in your life? Why?

AM: Queer and trans artists and allies who have come before me. There are so many, I can’t pick one! Writers, photographers, sex workers, activists, performers… the people who were out there creating art or causing a scene while I was still figuring out my place in the world. All the people who gave me something to read and dream about when I was young. Also, so many of my friends, people that I spend my days and my nights with. The people closest to me inspire me daily. If you want me to name names, here’s a mixed list of all of the above : Rocco Kayiatos, Rhiannon Argo, Tuck Mayo, Leslie Feinberg, Michelle Tea, Max Wolf Valerio, RuPaul, AA Bronson, Cookie Mueller, John Waters, Tammy Faye, Austin Young, Pee Wee Herman, Daniel Nicoletta, George Michael, Michael Alig, Tara Jepsen, Kirk Read, Larry Clark, Ben McCoy, vintage porn, and all the drag queens I hung out with in Arlington, TX in the year 2000. To name a few.

TQ: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far in life?

AM: Original Plumbing magazine. And my moustache.

TQ: Being a face in the “limelight”, what types of privacy or safety concerns have you faced? How did you deal with them?

AM: The privacy and safety concerns I have usually revolve around meeting new people who do not already know me and me figuring out/obsessing over/struggling with how/if/when to disclose to someone that I am trans. Mainly I am referring to these situations in the cases of meeting new people when it comes to dating and/or sex, and how to live a safe life where I’m not putting myself at risk (physically, emotionally or otherwise) by disclosing. A plus side to this is that because of the work that I do, people often assume or know that I am trans, at least in some communities, so that is half the battle for me, because I’d rather people already know.

TQ: What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

AM: It doesn’t matter what kind of camera you have! Just keep shooting. Seriously.

TQ: What is the most interesting or memorable photo shoot you have done?

AM: Every one is pretty memorable for me. Even if I’ve just met the model that day and then never hang out with them ever again, I feel pretty bonded to them for life. From the hundreds of photos I’ll take during a photo shoot with one model, there will always be that one photograph that I single out that forever reminds me of that day or time in my life, or relationship to that specific person. I mainly shoot queer artists, a lot of writers and performers, gender variant individuals, drag performers, people who I feel are iconic in the queer community, so it’s impossible for me to choose just one shoot.

TQ: TQ Nation is giving you a personal soap box – What do you want to say? (include your spout outs: vents, complaints, thanks or anything you want people to know)

AM: Press is dying, and that makes me really sad. Support your favorite magazines, authors, and zines-makers… Purchase them at your local bookstores. Keep print media alive, and keep the stores alive that give printed matter a home.

Also, I love cats.

TQ: What upcoming event/tour can your fans look forward to in the future?

AM: I have two exhibits that focus on trans men I’ve photographed, both in San Francisco — One at the LGBT Community Center (called “The Boys of Original Plumbing – Past, Present & Future”) March 31-May 13th, then another exhibit at the Lexington Club in San Francisco, which will be up from June 22nd for a month.  I’ll be doing a huge Original Plumbing model search at that June 22nd opening party, which happens to fall during Pride week madness.

On June 24th, as a part of the National Queer Arts Festival in San Francisco,  Rocco Kayiatos and I are curating a multi-media event featuring 6 different trans male performers.

Then, in April 2011 I’ll be on Sister Spit tour with Michelle Tea and an all new line-up.



Written by TQ Nation 1st Lady, Sicily Skye


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TQ Nation EXCLUSIVE Interview: “Coyote” Joe Stevens

"Coyote" Joe Stevens (Photo credit: Trev McKee)

TQ Nation had the unbelievable opportunity to interview the songwriter and co-music pioneer of Coyote Grace, Joe Stevens. Joe Stevens is an innovative trans musician who started writing songs at the young age of fifteen. His undying love for music inspired his education in college and lead to his unbelievable success with musical partner Ingrid Elizabeth with theirfolktastic phenomenon” band Coyote Grace. Joe is known all over the world for his musical talent, smooth voice and inspiration, but when it comes to TQ Nation he is recognized as being one of the most perceptible representatives of the talented FtM (female-to-male) community.

If you haven’t already, I suggest you checkout Coyote Grace on their YouTube channel , Fan them on Facebook and Follow them on Twitter. Of course, you also need to go directly to their website to keep up with Coyote Grace news and events.

Personally, I absolutely love Joe Stevens and his shy but playful partner in life and music, Ingrid Elizabeth.  They have a wonderful story and a wonderful spirit that shines through in their songwriting and every time they take the stage together. Their story and early relationship hits home for Tristan and I making us understand, connect and love Coyote Grace that much more. Joe Stevens, himself, opens the eyes of the world to our FtM community with every song he sings, especially “Guy Named Joe“, at every venue he plays, which bestows respect and honorable intrigue from everyone.  For that, he is a GBLTQ icon.

Joe Stevens has a very kind heart and an amazing sense of humor despite the dark roads of his past.  He has proven to be a very dedicated and determined artist that almost appears indestructible when it comes to getting his music to his fans. This alone is enough reason to consider Joe Stephens as an inspiration, but there’s more… Joe has broken the bridges and erased the fears of so many FtM’s that want to follow in his footsteps as a singer. He has been the one who so many have looked to when they faced concerns over voice changes on Testosterone. He continues to be a mentor and a motivating trans-celebrity that provides hope and guidance purely by his presence.

When TQ Nation was graced with a golden ticket opportunity (*wink*) for an exclusive interview with Joe Stephens, we were ecstatic! We asked 10 questions and received answers that were endearing, thoughtful, and inspirational. Joe Stephens is an extremely talented artist who is highly cherished and admired.  Not to mention, he’s a TQ Nation citizen!

TQ NATION
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

TQ: What do you believe has been your biggest role or accomplishment that has benefited the transgendered community?

JS: I think the best thing I have done for the trans community is just being visible. When I began my transition 6 years ago I found little if any trans representation anywhere in the media, let alone in the music scene. I was hell bent on playing music for a living before transition and had no idea how that would affect my career, but I just had to go forward. The first picture I ever saw (knowingly) of an out transperson was Loren Cameron’s book “Body Alchemy” and it affected me in a profound way. It was the first time I really recognized one of my kind. Being out also has the effect of humanizing transfolks to the greater world, which is what will turn the tides, in my opinion. Our audiences tend to bring together a wide array of folks. I am so happy when a show brings the transfolks in a small community together where there aren’t gathering spaces or events often, and it is also awesome to bring together people who would normally never experience each other. My hope is that I have sung a story that needed to be heard, and that may help someone find insight into themselves and the world, trans or not. Stories definitely do that for me.

Ingrid & Joe

TQ: What is the craziest thing one of your fans has ever done to get your attention?

JS: I haven’t experienced too much craziness, there are a few Coyote Grace tattoos out in the world, but I see that as a huge honor.

TQ: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

JS: I hope to have a sustainable career traveling and playing music in whatever form, interacting with great folks, being outdoors, and I’d sure love to have a house somewhere beautiful to come home to after touring. And a cat. And maybe some health insurance. That’s the dream, anyway.

TQ: Who is the one person that has played the most significant and positive role in your life? Why?

JS: That would have to be Ingrid, the other half of Coyote Grace. Ingrid came along at a time when I was just getting by in life and trying to be in as little pain as possible in the process. Music kept me afloat, but I was hanging on by a thread. Her employment at Babeland and sex-positive politics broke the ice around my fervently repressed dysphoria, gave me permission to forgive myself for whatever I was, and eventually helped create the conditions where I felt safe enough to say it out loud and finally do something about it. She was the rock in the river. Through all my emotional ups and downs, my seemingly endless battles with drugs and alcohol, my dealings with myself and the world around me, she was there. Nowadays we are as unconventional as always – we live separately and no longer carry the title of romantic partners, but we are the closest of friends, artistic comrades, road dogs, queer as all hell, doing our thing in this crazy life. I am eternally grateful for these days, wherever they lead.

TQ: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far in life?

JS: Two things come to mind that make me smile – The first is that Ingrid and I tore out of Seattle in a Craigslist find 1978 Chevy RV that we knew nothing about, and we lived in that damn thing and traveled the whole country for a year. Old Harvey leaked, we had to tarp it every time it rained, empty the janky dump tank, find where to sleep, no AC, propane stove and fridge, rarely went over 55 mph, and there was plenty to do under the hood. And me, with my barely developing male social skills, had to figure out what was wrong, if I could fix it, or how to find someone who could in some strange new part of the country I had never been to. The joy really is in the struggle, although it’s easier to see looking back. The second is that we just opened for the Indigo Girls in March, my all time heroes, which was so amazing it might have been a dream. They are up there in my top three musicians who had the most effect on my songwriting and development as a person, and the ones who showed me it was ok for an unconventional girl to pick up a guitar and rock out. To be seen and encouraged by my all time heroes was truly an honor beyond words. But all worldly things aside, my greatest achievement truly is being the best person I can be in the moment I’m in, that is the greatest contribution any of us can make.

TQ: Being a face in the “limelight”, what types of privacy or safety concerns have you faced? How did you deal with them?

JS: I can’t say I’ve had too many safety concerns (knock on wood), one of the pros in the list of pros and cons of passing. My story is certainly all over the internet, but I haven’t experienced anything scary as of yet. As for privacy, I have certainly had my share of awkward questions from strangers about my transition or my genitals, and the experience of being outed in front of folks where it didn’t seem relative to me to bring it up. My experience though, largely has been that most people mean well, and that most of the rudeness or discomfort comes from folks acting out of fear or temporarily losing sight of social graces in the face of something that is so new to them. I find myself constantly encountering “teachable moments” which can get a little old, but I see those moments as taking one for the team. At the end of the day I am so grateful that I am able to transition, be out, and play music for a living, and that is only possible because someone blazed the trail for me. So from that perspective, it’s truly an honor to give back.

TQ: What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

JS: Just keep singing. Whatever kind of art you do, if it is truly your voice and your path, don’t let anything get in your way, specially yourself. Most obstacles turn out to be just that. Listen close to where you are moved to go, and go there. Community is the best and most fulfilling resource you will find. If you are a cloudy individual with a dark past like me, or a young person stuck in an unfriendly environment – hang in there, your people are out there, and there is a place for you.

TQ: What inspired the creation of Coyote Grace?

JS: Coyote Grace is the result of a chemistry experiment between Ingrid Elizabeth and Joe Stevens.. Take one quirky dancing singing bass playing redhead from Ohio who ran away with the circus to Seattle (literally), and mix with one troubled and gender bent choir kid from Sacramento who bounced from school to school till he landed in Seattle, and there you go! The name Coyote Grace came as an ambiguous mixture of our former stage names from the burlesque cabaret days, Amazing Grace and Coyote Joe, and now carries all sorts of connotations and insights. We were ready to leave Seattle, so we quit our day jobs and moved into the van, began performing full time at the Pike’s Place Market, funded “Boxes and Bags” entirely from one dollar bills and donations, and hit the road. We traveled for about two and a half years before putting down roots in Sonoma County, north of San Francisco, and here we are today, rarely home, but living the dream.


TQ: TQ Nation is giving you a personal soap box – What do you want to say? (include your spout outs: vents, complaints, thanks or anything you want people to know)

JS: What an opportunity.. Hm. This brings me to my current feelings about transition and my place in the queer community. This is purely my experience, take it as that. What has struck me recently, is that it doesn’t get much further out there than a male-identified male-presenting person who is primarily attracted to women to claim a place in the queer community. It almost defies the very definition. Almost. What I realize here is that history and culture are as important as anything else. And my history in a female body, constantly being seen as queer, tramping around the Castro with my flamingly gay brother in a flock of flipping wrists, frequenting the Seattle dyke/tranny nights and queer burlesque, cabarets, and poetry readings – all of that history is very important to me and inextricably part of who I am. Butch lesbians are my next of kin, I feel far more at home with them than with straight guys. I am as culturally queer as the come, schooled on all sides. And, nowadays, I am a bearded average looking guy in a semi-hetero line of work, who no one stares at on the street. No one even thinks twice, especially when I’m with a girl. What a trip!! On the flip side, many lgbt folks don’t identify with queer culture, many weren’t socialized that way, and some don’t want to claim it, which is also totally valid. Some folks are being seen as queer for the first time, due to transition, partner status, what have you. Some straight folks are more culturally queer than some queers I know. So what I have learned is just another version of the age old – don’t read a book by it’s cover. You really never know. And all of this shifts, with time, with age, with new accumulations of history; identities truly are fluid, for all people.

With that, I want to encourage us to practice what we preach – There is no one way to be trans, no one way to transition, to be a man/woman/both/neither, to be queer, an ally, or whatever you are. We are too few to be divided, and there is so much to be done. As with the greater LGBT community, I have unending respect those that came before and the work they have done to make our lives better, and I can forgive those who do not understand the trans community. We are still family. On our own side of the street, transfolks, if we want to be involved, we need to get involved. If we want people to be educated about us, then we need to educate. No more anger, resentment, and taking our frustrations out on each other, no more bullshit. We are awesome, each kickass and unique, we deserve rights and services, and we have something very important that only we can bring to the world. So keep on with the poetry, the songs, the art, the plays, the cabarets, the drag shows, the films, the workshops, the protests, VOTING, lube wrestling, public speaking, supporting the NCTE and the Transgender Law Center, photography, conferences, online communities, feather boas, and combat boots – whatever is your pleasure and your voice, say it out loud and with respect!

TQ: What upcoming event/tour can your fans look forward to in the future?

JS: We just released our fourth project, “Buck Naked”, which shows the quirkier side of Coyote Grace. An inside hint – the soprano voice on the last track in not Ingrid.. I’ll just leave it at that. Our amazing Indigo Girls Tour just ended and we are settling back into our relatively normal lives, but we look forward to possibly working with them again in the future. Later in May we will do another West Coast run with Girlyman, new buddies of ours, which will also be very exciting!! Summer brings festival season, and we will be out and about the country as usual, so check the website to find out when we will be near you. If you would like Coyote Grace to come to your school to perform or give workshops, let us know! We’d love to. And check out this amazing new documentary – “Riot Acts: Flaunting Gender Deviance in Musical Performance” made by Actor Slash Model, two awesome film makers and musicians from Chicago. It is an inside view of the experiences of trans musicians, and features many of the folks out there pounding the pavement today. See you around!


Written by TQ Nation 1st Lady, Sicily Skye

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TQ Nation EXCLUSIVE Interview: Rocco “Katastrophe” Kayiatos

Rocco Katastrophe

TQ Nation had the opportunity to squeeze into the busy schedule of San Francisco based rapper and producer, Rocco “Katastrophe” Kayiatos for an exclusive interview.

Katastrophe got his start in 1997 doing poetry slams which led to rapping and making beats in 2002. He has taken hip-hop to the next level by traveling down the ultra-lyrics highway. He can spit about education, gender, culture and do it all with musical emotions ranging from pounding-reality rage to flirty shake-yer-booty tunes.

He has created three solo cd’s, toured the US and Europe multiple times and has been featured everywhere from Showtime’s “The L Word” to several documentary films. He was named “Producer of the Year” by Out Music Awards and his video for the song “The Life” was on MTV networks LOGO top ten hit list for twelve weeks.

Last year, Rocco teamed up with renowed photographer, Amos Mac, and together they have successfully produced the FTM quarterly magazine, Original Plumbing. Rocco holds the title of Assistant Editor.

Want more? I suggest you dive into his amazing talent for yourself by checking out his website HERE, becoming his fan on Facebook and friending his a$$ on Myspace. Of course, you also need to see him in person so make sure to keep informed of his next scheduled tour. You can also meet him at an Original Plumbing release party which happens every quarter.

Not to mention, he is also a TQ Nation citizen! *wink, wink*

TQ Nation

Exclusive Interview

TQ: What do you believe has been your biggest role or accomplishment that has benefited the transgendered community?

RK: I don’t know if I know what has had the most impact. I was one of the first transguys making music and discussing my transition from a stage. I figured out I was trans in 2002 and performed the entire time I transitioned. My first CD dealt heavily with issues of early transition, some of those ftm specific songs were featured on the L Word. I know that I reached a lot of young trans guys looking for their reflection in culture during that moment. That felt important and cool. A bunch of young dudes wrote to me during that time about how they used a couple of those songs to come out to their parents. I never set out with the goal of affecting the community, I just want to be real about my life and struggles and if people relate or get something from it, that is a big bonus.


TQ: What is the craziest thing one of your fans has ever done to get your attention?

RK: Nothing too out of the norm I think. Had a couple bras tossed my way, sweet fan letters etc.

TQ: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

RK: God, I can barely see ten days from now. I try to just think about each day and not worry about the future too much. This has served me well so far.

TQ: Who is the one person that has played the most significant and positive role in your life? Why?

(Photo Credit: Jessica Miller)

RK: Only get to pick one? Well, I can’t, there have been too many. I would say direct influences have been my sister and my mom and dad, for all believing in me and pushing me to do anything and everything I felt inspired to do. My parents really accepted me for exactly who I am and supported me every step of the way. Even when I told them I wanted to be the worlds most famous Transsexual rapper!


My girlfriend, writer Michelle Tea, when she said “jobs are for quitting” meaning I never needed to find a career path other than the artistic one I am on. James Kass, director of Youth Speak! He gave me my first job right out of high school, teaching and performing poetry. All the queer artists brave enough to put their identities and art out there and create space for others to
follow suit. And most currently Amos Mac for conceptualizing and bringing me on board with Original Plumbing. This project is changing my life and the world forever. The project is magical and so is Amos!

TQ: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far in life?

RK: I can’t quantify. Maybe surviving adolescence and thriving in adulthood. Making money as an artist!

TQ: Being a face in the “limelight”, what types of privacy or safety concerns have you faced? How did you deal with them?

RK: I was offered a spot on VH1’s “The White Rapper Show” and declined because I wanted to keep a certain level of anonymity. I like being gaymous or sublebrity. I think the hardest part is having people feel like they know me without knowing me. It feels a little imbalanced. Overall it’s cool though.

TQ: What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

RK: Do what you are driven to do and worry about the result later. If you get caught up in wondering what will happen, you will never just make stuff. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you you can’t. And everyone has an opinion, but what other people think of you is ultimately none of your business.

TQ: How did Original Plumbing magazine get created? Tell us the story.

RK: Amos was going to create a zine to showcase his pictures of the guys in our community he’d shot and he told me about it. The more we talked about it the more inspired we both got about it. I asked if I could help and we decided to run it as more of a real magazine than a zine and to commit to making it for a full year and see how it went. Well, the response was immediately overwhelmingly good. And now we are committed to doing it forever. Neither of us is short in ideas or inspiration and the world is full of guys that are willing to model, so we are set.

TQ: TQ Nation is giving you a personal soap box – What do you want to say? (include your spout outs: vents, complaints, thanks or anything you want people to know)

RK: I think the only thing on my mind that I want to rant about right now is how big the world is, and how in our small communities, sometimes we forget this. I think queers spend a lot of time fighting for space with each other, and that energy would be better spent making space in the larger world. We don’t have enough of a voice outside our community. I think we forget this and tear each other apart. As an artist, my voice gets heard a bit more, so then people are sometimes bummed when they feel like I am speaking for them. I can never speak for anyone but myself, I hope to speak to people and make more space for more voices to be heard. Also, I think if you don’t see yourself reflected in the larger world, do something about it. We don’t have enough time to spend it thinking or saying negative things about other people. Let’s all assume everyone is doing their best and try to love and understand one another. It is just as easy, if not easier, to see the similarities than the differences. Try a little tenderness. There is enough room for everyone. Let’s not step on each others toes.

TQ: What upcoming events, appearances or movies can your fans look forward to?

RK: I just finished a month long tour. I will be back on the east coast and midwest in April and May, look out for those dates. And support queer art, buy my new cd its good. If you buy my cd, I can keep making music about our lives.
xoxoRocco


Written by TQ Nation President, Tristan Skye


Join the Revolution: www.TQnation.com

TQ Nation had the sensational pleasure to interview the National Entertainer of the Year 2009 (NEOY) aka “The Goddess of Seduction’, Bianca Nicole. Bianca Nicole is one of the most captivating female impersonators to ever grace the entertainment stage. She has stolen the show on stages all over the nation for almost 10 years and her popularity and notoriety hits new heights with every performance.

Bianca Nicole has perfected her stage performance, but it’s her personal life as a MtF (Male-to Female) Transsexual that truly shows her elegance and strength. Bianca started to live her life as a transgendered woman in 2003 and is continuing her own personal journey to a full transition in the upcoming future. Surrounded by the love and support of her fans, friends and most of all her family, Bianca Nicole is a name that you will hear more and more as she becomes an international icon in this community.

Are you intrigued yet?….., I suggest you see her amazing beauty and talent for yourself by subscribing to her YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/MissNEOY2009 , Befriend her onhttp://www.facebook.com/bncanlas and http://www.facebook.com/thegoddessofseduction . Of course, you also need see her in person so make sure to watch for her shows and events at a venue near you.

Personally, I am not only a fan of Bianca, but also an avid supporter of her. I have been extremely privileged to see Bianca Nicole perform on numerous occasions and highly thrilled when she asked me to share a stage with her for one of her pageant benefit shows in 2008. Bianca Nicole is a DIVA, both on and off the stage. Her charismatic personality and the way she conducts herself is a breath of fresh air for everyone around her. Tristan and I feel extremely honored to call her an ally and a friend.

TQ Nation had the shimmering opportunity to lip-lock (*wink*) Bianca Nicole for an exclusive interview. We asked 10 questions and received answers that were endearing, light-hearted, and uncensored about her and her life. She has proven, yet again, to be beyond an inspiration for T-girls everywhere and a trendsetter for the Female Impersonator’s Entertainment World. Not to mention, she is also a TQ Nation citizen!

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