Hello all. As promised I’m sharing the link to the news story that was run about me and my transition. Please feel free to share with others (twitter/facebook/etc.)
I hope you found the story to be meaningful or informative for you. I, myself, found the story to be… well both good and bad. As with most everything in this world nothing is completely good or completely bad, but usually a solid mixture of the two. This story is no exception, but let’s begin with the good.
I found the story to be of an overall positive theme and presentation. WCCO definitely tried rather hard to make sure they referred to present tense me as she/her, which I appreciated. They also did me a solid by beginning the segment with an excerpt of Caitlyn Jenner’s now famous (or infamous depending on who you ask) acceptance speech at the ESPY’s, which made me feel entirely more famous than was probably merited. I have reached out to Caitlyn (likely to no avail) to show her the story and hope that she will share the story with her twitter/blog followers, but as of yet there has been no response. I also liked that while there was definitely the potential for my wife and I to be edited to look utterly ridiculous or to sound completely mean/insensitive, WCCO tried to capture only positive or affirming portions of the filmed interview. Although it came as somewhat of a surprise, I was appreciative of the association of my story with common statistics about transgender people, local legal issues, as well as an organization I have admired for some time now (Out Front MN). I did like that they showed pictures of my blog and the title, as well as the fact that they shared the link to this blog on the website, which has nearly quadrupled the regular traffic I get (as of writing this). Lastly, I liked that they included a portion with my wife talking about our marriage and how she coped with my decision to transition, which is an important part to my overall story (not sure where I’d be without her).
While I am appreciative that the story was positive and that it shed a somewhat flattering light upon me and my writing, there was some disappointment too. While I understand that we can’t all be like Caitlyn Jenner and have a lengthy and in depth television interview with Diane Sawyer that goes for an hour or more, I was a little sad about how much of the interview was cut from the end product. Liz Collin and I sat and chatted for over two hours when we filmed, yet the portion of the story actually showing interview questions/answers lasted probably less than 45-60 seconds in total.
This disappointment with the brevity of actual interview footage actually expands into several different issues I had. The first was that it only barely scratched the surface of the true Emma transition story. In some ways, it was like the news story was about a person who is telling their story (me) more than it was about that person’s actual story, and perhaps that is all it was ever supposed to be. I admit that I likely had a incorrect perception of why this story was being run, but because of how brief the excerpts were, there was no opportunity to discuss my non-binary gender identity or why I was okay with WCCO discussing my life as Robert. I’ve already had some people cringing at the use of my birth name and pronouns, and they are right to do so. In almost any other context of transgender examination it is inappropriate or undesired to discuss previous gender and life before transition unless otherwise expressed. Without explaining why I was okay sharing my story and why I feel comfortable discussing my past, of which I am neither ashamed nor trying to hide from, I fear that others will see the news piece as an open invitation to ask transgender people about their pasts when they probably shouldn’t.
The brevity also prevented any discussion of what it means to be non-binary, or what it means to try to transcend binary world views and social expectations. Instead I was simply referred to as a transgender woman, which is not entirely accurate. It is much more accurate than to say I’m a man or that I’m simply a woman, so I was not offended, but it still left me wishing for more explanation. I wanted so much for them to include Liz and I’s discussion of how I am really a we, and how Robert and Emma both still exist inside of this person I’ve become. I also felt a bit chagrined with the single excerpt of me reading my original blog post (truth will set you free) where I talked about being a scared and terrified woman inside. While that statement was 100% true at the time that I wrote it, I am no longer afraid to be myself. The whole point of this blog and my story is to display how I’ve overcome that fear and am now living a fearless and happy life.
Lastly, and this is no fault of WCCO, I was disappointed in my own appearance. I know the camera is supposed to add ten or fifteen extra pounds but holy goodness I felt like a cow watching myself on the television. Needless to say the diet is becoming more of a priority than it has been recently. I might have already lost nearly 90 pounds over the last two years, but I really have a lot left to go and my half-assed efforts to stick to my weight watchers goals lately are not cutting it. Time to finally drop that last 40 or 50 pounds I have hanging around. Next I never realized how hunched over I always am. I felt like Emma, the hunchback of Minnesota. I’m not sure what I can do to correct this habit of allowing my shoulders to droop so badly but I’ve got to fix my posture before I’m permanently hunched over. Then there was my voice… oh my voice… I spent so many hours annoying the crap out of my wife in the car doing damn voice exercises and it all seemed for naught when I heard myself talk. I know I’m holding myself to a standard that’s probably unrealistic but I just felt like I sounded like any other guy on the street and was disappointed I didn’t sound more the way I wanted to.
Anyways, I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. I am glad I did the interview. I am glad that WCCO put it on the air. I am glad that more people are becoming aware of me, my life, my writing, and my efforts to transcend (and inspire others to transcend) the gender binary. I still appreciate Liz Collin and believe whole-heartedly that she did a good job with this despite what might have been expected of her. We all have a boss, and who knows what pressures she was under to make the story the way she did. Maybe she wanted to include the parts about me explaining my non-binary gender identity but someone higher up the food chain couldn’t get on board with that vision. Most people are struggling to understand garden variety transgender issues (simple MtF, FtM who want only to pass as their true binary gender), so perhaps my gender outlawry and non-conformity to the binary was too big a pill to swallow for the nightly news. I will likely never know, so all I can do now is accept what was broadcast, appreciate the good parts of it, and move on with my efforts to share my story for the benefit of others.
I am very lucky to have been chosen for this. I am very lucky to have so many people reading my words and hearing about my story. I am so fortunate for so many things in my life and I know that. I count my blessings every day. I thank the heavens for the many gifts I have been given and try to not squander them selfishly. The only thing that really matters is that I’m being given increased opportunity to spread love, peace, and acceptance of transgender/non-binary people. WCCO and Liz Collin have given me a wonderful opportunity to reach so many more people than I could have otherwise and I will be forever grateful to them for that. And let us not forget about Tom, the cameraman who did his best to make me look as little like a hunchback cow on camera as he could. I feel bad he had such a poor subject to work with, but I promise that if I ever do a follow up interview with Liz and him (assuming Liz didn’t hate my review just now), I will be thinner and have a better posture. =/
Anyways. I hope the new readers keep coming in and that you are all finding this exceptional journey I’ve embarked on as fascinating, emotional, thought provoking, and entertaining as I have. I’ve come a long way, but this is really just the beginning of the story. We are barely into chapter 1, and I’m feeling a George R.R. Martin length novel coming on ;)