Is this really happening? This isn’t a dream, right? This blonde, beautiful, smiling reporter named Liz sitting a few feet across from me in my living room, the tall and bright light shining down on me, and the camera behind the reporter’s shoulder are all real, aren’t they? I can’t believe this is actually happening. For so many years I envisioned this moment, envisioned this interview. How many times have I lived it all inside my head before now? How many pretend, imaginary interviews where I was worthy of this kind of attention have I participated in before today? As a hopeless dreamer I dare say it’s too many to count, but this one isn’t imaginary at all. This is actually happening to me.
The mic attached to my dress collar is real. The cameraman named Tom staring into the camera’s viewer is real. The reporter in her teal blouse and million dollar smile is real. This thousand-miles per hour heartbeat is real. The nervous sweat created by my spiking anxiety is real.
“So, why don’t we start at the beginning…” Liz begins as my heart starts to race even faster. Why is it suddenly so hot in here? I feel like I’m sweating from every pore under the intense light shining down on me. I look over to my wife sitting on the couch behind the camera man, her legs are crossed and she has a proud look on her face. I think she’s having as hard of a time believing this is actually happening as I am, but seeing her there, giving me that look of excitement and love helps me focus. I have to be on my A game. I have to make sure I get this right. So many people are going to see this and if I don’t get it right it could be disastrous.
It’s not every day that a transgender individual bears it all for the world to see and the example I set today may dictate the very tone for how tens of thousands of people view and feel comfortable interacting with the next transgender person they meet. I have to be good for them, I have to be good for all the silent voices out there who will never have this opportunity to come out so publicly; who will never get the chance to speak to such a large audience at once. I have to make sure I don’t set them up for failure, I have to make sure that people understand that what I’m doing is rare and that even though I’m telling my story, unafraid of the consequences, that not everyone is like me. So many out there want nothing to do with this kind of attention and I must keep them in my mind as I answer these questions.
“When was the first time that you got any sort of feeling that you might be transgender, or that you might have been born in the wrong body?” Liz continues. I knew this question was coming. It’s always one of the first questions that people ask. I understand why she is asking it. There is a narrative going around these days that transgender individuals always knew that they were transgender, but that narrative isn’t quite true. So many, myself included, didn’t know from the age of 3 that we were supposed to be a different gender. Some didn’t know until much later in life. Some are like me in that I knew something was wrong, something was off, something just didn’t quite fit or match from about the age of 8, but had no idea it was their gender. That answer doesn’t fit into the always knew narrative in a concise and neat way, so this is my opportunity to openly contradict that narrative, to willingly cut across a very common assumption about the nature of gender identity.
I proceed to answer as honestly as I can, relating that it wasn’t until I was about 8 or 9 years old before I started to wonder if I shouldn’t have been born a girl, and even then I didn’t really understand or fully comprehend that thought. I explain that even though I had a proclivity for cross-dressing or secretly trying on women’s clothing that I didn’t really understand what I was doing or why I was driven to do it. I try to express as best as I can that it wasn’t until my teenage years and ultimately into my twenties before I finally grasped that I wasn’t supposed to be a boy, that I might be transgender. I try to impress upon her, upon the camera recording my every move, upon the mic recording my every word that transgender people weren’t something a common teenager in my generation heard about or knew about. There was no Caitlyn Jenner back then, no Lavern Cox producing and staring in widely watched television shows, no transgender characters on television at all, really. Those who were transgender were almost completely invisible to the world of a typical teenager in the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st.
I’m relieved that this reporter seems to be digesting my long-winded answer with relative ease. She even manages to repeat back to me what she gathered from my response, and that’s how this goes for the next two hours. Question after question, long-winded answer after long-winded answer. So many aspects of my life, of my transition, of my gender examined, discussed, and expressed on camera. So much more information than could ever be fit into the 3 to 4 minute piece that they will ultimately run about me in the following week. So much material that it is impossible for me to imagine what will be included and what will be cut out.
Eventually we break with the questions and start doing some work with the cameraman. He takes my wife and I outside and has us do some shots of us walking, hand-in-hand up and down the street. We are asked to just discuss things about our day, which becomes somewhat of a difficult thing to do since my wife and I already discussed that earlier during our car ride home together. We end up just making some stuff up and pretending like our days were different than they actually were. All for the camera right? How could we realistically discuss how neither of us really felt fulfilled by the day’s toil and it not sound completely inappropriate? Better to pretend we both had busy, productive, and rewarding days at work, even if that’s not necessarily accurate. Maybe on a different day that could have been the truth, but not today. No, today both of us spent the majority of our time fretting and freaking out about this interview. The car ride home was filled with anxiety, nervousness, and before-stage jitters. Neither of us have been on camera like this before. Neither of us have ever been so publicly examined in our lives.
After Tom gives us the thumbs up that he’s captured an adequate amount of us walking around we head back indoors to finish up the interview. This time it’s not just going to be me, but both my wife and I, standing in our kitchen. We get set up, moving things off of our kitchen island so that there is nothing but a large bowl of fruit, and Liz begins again with the questions. This time they are almost exclusively directed towards my wife, inquiring about how she is handling everything and how she has processed everything. My wife does an excellent job responding and is honest in her answers, although the story that will likely be painted from our responses is one that went much more smoothly than is historically accurate. There was never really much of a discussion about ending our marriage, but I know things have been harder on her (and us) than our responses might end up displaying. I suspect that is because she and I are in a much more stable and loving place than we have been in the past, so it is much easier to show a unified front as a couple than it might have been 6 months ago when all of this was so new and different. The moral of the story, however, is what will ultimately be displayed in the news and that’s all that really matters. People will learn that love transcends all boundaries; that when two people love each other enough and work together well enough, gender doesn’t have to be relevant.
The evening ends with the camera focusing on me again, this time I have my laptop out on the kitchen island and I have my blog up. Liz, who is standing in the corner outside of camera shot, asks me to read a portion of one of my posts and so I decide to read from the very first post on this blog “And you will know the truth, and that truth will set you free” (http://transadvent.blogspot.com/2014/10/and-you-will-know-truth-and-that-truth.html ). After I finish reading the first attempt she says, almost under her breath to my wife, that I’m such a good writer, and then adds that I’m also so well spoken. I have a hard time not blushing at these compliments. I suspect that I’m a decent writer but to hear someone I hardly know compliment my work just solidifies my confidence all the more. She asks me to read it one more time and I do as she asks.
And as quickly and nervously as it began, the interview comes to an end. Tom begins to pack up his gear and Liz writes out a list of items she still needs from me for the story. She needs photos that only my mother can provide and the email I sent to my coworkers when I came out to them. I tell her I will get these to her as soon as I can. She and Tom begin assembling their belongings when it occurs to me that I was hoping to have my picture taken with them. I lament that I forgot before now to have my wife take pictures of me in the hot seat, talking with Liz, but better late than never. I ask them if it would be okay to snap a couple shots and they gracefully oblige to my probably silly request. My wife takes the pictures on my phone and shows them to me to make sure they look okay. (I definitely look a little more dorky than I'd like but I think they turned out well)
Tom shakes my hand, telling me he will see me the next morning when he comes to my work to shoot some stock footage of me working and then heads out to the car to put his equipment away. Liz gives me a couple business cards and thanks my wife and I again for letting them interview us. She compliments us by telling us she thinks we are great people and then asks me for a hug goodbye. I happily give her one and thank her for giving me this opportunity to share my story. We say our final goodbyes and she leaves.
My wife and I close the door behind them and breathe a sigh of relief. We survived, hopefully unscathed. There is little more we can do at this point besides hope for the best and hope that Liz Collin (who is likely reading this right now, because that’s how awesome she is) puts together a positive story that will bring about visibility in a good way for transgender people in our state. I have faith that she will, and I believe her motivations come from a desire to do good. I just hope I was the right subject to bring about that good.
After a little while of calming down, my wife and I proceed to eat dinner and watch TV as we try to wind down from the anxious experience. Eventually I am left alone again with my thoughts as I sit in the shower, allowing the steaming hot water rain down on me. I process, as best as I can, what just happened. I spent so many years, ever since I was a teenager, imagining that my efforts as an author would result in me being interviewed for television. I held so many interviews in my mind where I got to talk about my story and about my desires for the future. How funny that this dream manifested into reality, and the story I was getting to talk about was literally my own story.
It reminds me of a quote from someone who teaches the secret or the Law of Attraction and I think there is no better quote to describe exactly what I just experienced. Bob Proctor said:
“All of the great achievers of the past have been visionary figures; they were men and women who projected into the future. They thought of what could be, rather than what already was, and then they moved themselves into action, to bring these things into fruition.”
I do not doubt for one moment that this interview was a product of that visionary habit I had of seeing myself in front of a camera, under a light, and in front of a reporter. There are no limitations to a person’s ability to achieve their dreams except the degree of their own belief in their eventual success. I had faith that this would happen one day. I simply knew beyond a doubt that it would eventually come to pass, and now it has. With faith, all things are possible my friends, never forget that. I’m not talking about faith in God alone, but the faith in your ability to achieve anything you set your mind to. You can move figurative mountains with faith because the power of thought and positive expectation is truly that potent.
Additionally, I have faith that this is just the beginning. I thank Liz Collin for this chance at my first news interview, but something tells me it won’t be my last. My faith tells me that many wonderful things are just around the corner. Stay tuned, my lovelies, I think things are about to get even more exciting than they have been so far.
I will share the link to the news story when it airs so all of you can watch it. I hope you will share that link in your respective areas as well because I think it’s going to be a great message.
Well, that’s all I have for now. I think that much of this post (with some additions) will actually end up in the memoire. Congrats Liz Collin, you are part of the memoire!! A memoire that I’m certain, in my ever optimistic projection of the future, will be a best seller. =p::