Now Reading
Beau My God Interview: Top Surgery, Toxic Transmasculinity, and the Subtle Omnipresence of Gender

Beau My God Interview: Top Surgery, Toxic Transmasculinity, and the Subtle Omnipresence of Gender

Avatar

This is a transcript of an interview I did with Beau Bradley for the Beau My God podcast in February 2021. We talk about, among other things, top surgery, gender presentation, the divide in the trans community, saying the “right things” as public figures on the Internet, transitioning while being in a romantic relationship, gender’s everyday omnipresence, toxic masculinity in trans guys, art vs life, and our individual experiences with therapy. The following conversation has been edited for clarity.

BEAU

The first thing I’m really excited to talk to you about is physical transition. I know you may have a different perspective of this. I know you also just got top surgery. I’d be excited to hear about how that’s going for you, and how you’re feeling.

MARTY

So I got top surgery … a month ago. Over a month ago. Wow. It feels ridiculous to say that because I feel like I just went under the knife, like I was just anticipating it. I feel really good right now. Every day I just look down at my chest and think that this is something I chose to do. I’m so happy with the result. I went to Dr. Garramone in South Florida; he’s the big surgeon for top surgery that a lot of trans guys like to go to. It was a really smooth procedure, and I was done within under two hours. I got out really early.

Physically, I had a really smooth time getting used to everything. You’re not supposed to do this, but I was reaching for stuff on the second day. They said, “Oh, keep you keep your arms close to you.” I basically went, “No, I’m going to ignore that completely.” I had no complications, and recovery went really smoothly. Emotionally, it took a pretty big toll; I had pretty bad post-surgical depression for about two weeks. I just got out of it. Right now my life is sunshine and rainbows, just because I’ve had that other stuff happen in contrast.

BEAU

It’s definitely not always that.

MARTY

Totally not.

BEAU

How do you feel with clothing? Are you having any more dysphoria because of surgery, or are you more comfortable now in your clothes?

MARTY

I was exclusively femme-presenting before I got top surgery. I’d always put on masculine clothes and I hated how my body looked in them. I would have a chest and it would make things fit differently. After top surgery, it was so refreshing to see a completely flat chest that I actually went out and bought a masculine wardrobe. Now, since it’s still slightly cold out, I wear that mostly. I did come home and try on a few dresses. The way that they’re made still make me look like I have a chest, almost. I have to learn how to alter this in a different way now, because I alter my own dresses.

In general, I feel way more comfortable with my body, way more comfortable wearing masculine clothes. I still get misgendered a lot because I still have long hair and the way I talk and stuff, but everything has gotten a lot more comfortable for me. I think that, now, when people misgender me, it’s because of my presentation and not because of my body. I feel that I’m one of those femboys who just look out, go out presenting femme. If they get misgendered, they’re just, like, “Oh, I’m just a guy wearing girly clothes.” To them, it doesn’t really matter.

BEAU

That’s such a straightforward thing to say, but for me that was such a hurdle: accepting my femininity, or the feminine traits I had. Growing up, I always rejected anything feminine before I even realized that I was trans, because I just knew I didn’t want to be grouped in with all the other girls, and all the girl things.

MARTY

Oh, yeah.

BEAU

It’s fascinating to think about it like that, because it’s almost backwards of what I’m experiencing, how you were more femme-presenting. It sounds like you’re embracing more of the masculinity now —

MARTY

Oh, totally.

BEAU

— and changing things, whereas I’ve always pushed myself to be masculine or a tomboy, and now I’m starting to embrace the girly things I like, and the sparkles and the colors.

MARTY

That’s super awesome. We’ll end up in the middle of sparkly and tomboy stuff.

BEAU

Of course, all these things that are just pointlessly gendered to begin with.

MARTY

It’s interesting that you bring that up, because right now I’m in the South. I was in San Francisco and I recently moved to New Orleans. Here, it’s so queer-accepting. I can’t even describe … you know, there’s trans pride flags all the way down the street. I haven’t seen a single Trump sign since I got here. I’ve seen so many Biden-Harris signs, which is really cool. If you walk on the French Quarter, there’s tons of gay pride flags and people wearing shirts that say things such as “You gay bro?”, and guys holding hands. It feels really good. But here everyone says “sir” and “ma’am”, too, you know. They call me “miss.” So it’s a weird kind of dichotomy. Everyone is obviously very accepting, but there are still these Southern traditions that they embrace a lot.

BEAU

Right. It’s interesting, too, when they’re trying to be respectful or trying to just be kind. But what they’re saying is actually completely incorrect and/or harmful.

MARTY

Meanwhile, I’m going “uh-huh, yeah.”

BEAU

That happens a lot for me at work, and I’m always saying “Did you see the pronouns right next to my name?”

MARTY

Yeah. Ugh.

BEAU

I wish you could walk around with the sign next to you.

MARTY

Or have something float above your head, you know. “He/him.” “Sir.”

BEAU

A Sims diamond, but instead, it’s …

MARTY

Pronouns.

BEAU

That would be cool. Another thing that you’ve mentioned is the toxicity of being “trans enough” or being …

MARTY

Ugh.

BEAU

Yup. [Laughs]

MARTY

You know, actually, nowadays, whenever I meet other trans people, there’s almost a fear in the back of my head going “Are they going to be truscum or not?” If I if I say “Oh, I’m trans”, or, you know, “I don’t mind wearing a dress”, or “I like being femme-presenting”, am I going to get met with a ton of hate from another trans person? I’m almost more hesitant to go into trans spaces, or transmasculine spaces, than I am going into cis people spaces, just because I know that there’s such a divide in the trans community. Every transmasc place I go to, there’s a big debate on what you’re “allowed” to do or what you’re not. It’s so exhausting.

BEAU

It’s almost like trying to become inclusive is making it elitist, because it’s like you have to say the right things and do the right things and have the right opinion. There’s something I read — I’m going to misquote it if I say which article was that you wrote on your website, but where you were talking about dysphoria almost as dissociation. Just that, for some reason, that wraps into that to me. When I go to talk to someone similarly who’s trans and I’m afraid that I might say the wrong things, or I don’t know enough or I’m not educated enough in what I’m talking about. It’s that fear of just … it’s like dysphoria of how trans my brain is or my vocabulary is, or … I don’t even know how else to describe it.

MARTY

You think to yourself: “Do you know the right phrases to say?” “Am I offending this person?” Stuff like that. Because the trans experience is so varied. It’s not one monolith.

BEAU

I am also learning, though, even in this conversation alone, just that comfort in talking to other people that do relate.

MARTY

Yeah, totally. I vibe with it. It’s so cool.

BEAU

One of the things that you said in one of our messages was about the queer community and how … I guess now it’s different because you’re not back in Florida, now that you moved. You just talked about that a little bit. But the difference in being home versus having the queer community, between … it’s almost like two separate worlds. I’ve really noticed that since I’ve moved here. You’re either people pleasing or you’re just trying to be yourself or … it’s just a weird thing to navigate.

MARTY

I love the South, and I love Southern aesthetics, but there is just so much gendered stuff. Even if you take out all the other icky things about the South, there’s a lot more gendered stuff here, and … I don’t know. When I’m with the queer community, I feel very connected because I also am a queer person. But my scope of interest that I usually like to talk about is just so completely different. When I’m here, I almost … it’s not that I can’t talk about being queer, because surprisingly people are willing to listen and educate themselves on it. But there’s no connection with it. There’s no shared experience here, almost.

BEAU

There’s a lot to say for shared experience. I hope that’s something that becomes more validated, because I think it historically hasn’t been.

MARTY

Yeah.

BEAU

So … the struggle of being a trans influencer.

MARTY

Ugh.

BEAU

[Laughs]

MARTY

[Laughs] I say “ugh” after every one of these questions, not because I don’t want to answer them, but just because I could do ten separate interviews on each one of these questions. The struggle of being a trans influencer. 

I recently got off of all social media. I’m getting someone else to manage it; I’m using automators. I still post, but I just don’t want to be in the thick of all of it. There’s a lot of pressure to express yourself just just the right way, and what is constructive versus just regular, mean criticism.

I think being a trans influencer, especially, is not just telling people, you know, “This is a cute dress I want you to buy.” It’s literally “This is how I figured out my life and a core part of who I am. Maybe my story can help yours as well.” If you don’t represent yourself in just the right way, then you run the risk of messing up someone else’s life, even in a little way. I feel a large responsibility to do right by my audience. 

Also, the sheer amount of intense debate over what “being trans” even is by both trans people and cis people has become pretty overwhelming. Recently, one of my best friends who is big into devil’s advocate stuff — which I also love, so I’m not hating on him for this or anything — but sent me a book about how trans influencers are “ruining our little girls by telling them that they’re actually trans guys.” It’s that whole debacle, you know, and I’m reading it right now. I’m like, “Oh, God.” I’m not saying that there aren’t people who end up realizing that they are cis, but I don’t think that it’s a trans influencer’s fault for opening up someone’s world to other possibilities.

BEAU

Right.

MARTY

And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. So just dealing with all this intense scrutiny and responsibility is … it’s a lot.

BEAU

One thing that that reminds me of is that I recently just talked with a few people about trans athlete inclusion and how that works. I’m an adult volunteer cheerleader, but in an inclusive … it’s like an LGBTQ league, essentially. So it’s just a whole different experience. Just talking to people that just automatically, like you said, just assume that the downfall of all women’s sports are going to be because we’ve made these spaces inclusive.

You have to break it down almost to this tiny cellular level just to get them to understand where you’re coming from, because it’s like you start down the road and it’s like, “Well, chromosomes.” Well, no, here are the exceptions. “Well, genitals.” No, here are the exceptions. And it’s just, like, you can’t … it’s gender. It’s just gender. [Laughs]

MARTY

Now I’m a philosopher, and a biologist, and a doctor, a fucking doctor in multiple different ways, just because I want to have a place where we can meet in the middle, and I could kind of begin to get someone to understand the paradigm I’m living in.

BEAU

Going back to talking about talking to other trans people and how intimidating that can be. Some people think that we shouldn’t be dumbing things down and breaking things down for everyone else, they should just get on our level and understand, and this and that. I understand that and I recognize that, and I appreciate the people who are strong enough to say “I’m not going to tell you anything. This is just how it is. Go look it up for yourself.” It doesn’t bother me one way or the other. But there’s such a disconnect between the queer community and the heterosexual rest of the world. Whatever.

MARTY

[Laughs]

BEAU

There’s so much value in bridging that gap, and in just trying to get everyone on the same page to understand why these issues are here.

MARTY

I think that … I mean, I see the value of asking someone to Google something because it’s your life. You could do whatever you want with it. But at the same time, at least for me, personally, my trans experience is so different from the stuff that’s out there. If I just told someone to Google it, they end up Googling or finding something that’s completely not what I meant. I also see a value in explaining myself because of that.

BEAU

How do you deal with being misgendered?

MARTY

In the past, I had a bunch of different tactics. Obviously I really, really fucking hate being misgendered. Even though it’s something I have to actively work on. Today, I was checking into a new hotel and there were some booking issues. The whole time, I’m thinking that I’d rather just message the hosts online because if I go to the front desk, they’re going to call me “she” in front of everyone else, and I’m just going to have to deal with that, and it’s going to be awful. 

Recently, I’ve been telling myself that I’m just a guy in drag. If my partner, a cis guy, grew out his hair and wear a dress like me, and people called him “she,” then he wouldn’t really care. So I’m trying to come from the mind of “If I were a cis man, I’m just being called “she” because of how I look.” Just the rational, reasonable approach to this. Other times, I just wear huge “he/him” pin and go, “I don’t fucking care.” Let me point to my pronoun pin. It is literally six inches in circumference. It’s here. You can’t miss it. 

Other times, I pretend that I am a cis woman, saying things to myself such as “Okay, I am not a trans man. You can call me whatever you want and like it’s not going to bother me.” It still bothers me, honestly. But because I’m playing a different character, like I pretend I’m someone else, that sometimes helps. If it just becomes a lot, which it often does, I’ll just rage to myself a little bit. I’ll journal. I’ll just get it out somehow. That probably helps the most.

BEAU

Sometimes it’s hard to balance, or figure out the balance of, when it’s worth it to correct someone versus when it’s worth it to just let it slide.

MARTY

I’m very lucky in that sense. I have two really good friends with me right now and they’re such allies. Whenever someone misgenders me, they’re always the first to hop in. They tell the other person “No.”

They’re both cis guys. It’s really good getting that validation from sources other than yourself. I think that, if I were to drop this huge rock, that I’m holding one of them will always pick it up for me and show whoever is misgendering me who I actually am. That feels really good. I’m so grateful for them.

BEAU

There’s a lot to say about community, not even within our own community, but just friendships and relationships outside of blood relation. I’m adopted, so it’s something that I’ve always considered. Water and blood, it doesn’t really matter to me. It’s all about the person. That’s something that really translates into my life now, because you just kind of have to almost collect the people that are in your corner and stick with them.

MARTY

Chosen family is totally a thing.

BEAU

For. Sure. Speaking of … your partner. How has that been while you’ve been going through this process?

MARTY

It has gotten so much better. A few days ago, he told me that before the surgery, it felt like our relationship was this hill. Imagine an upside-down cup that’s curved at the top. You drop a ball onto the top and it rolls down either of the sides, and then that’s the end. That’s what our relationship was like: so precarious.

But recently it’s been turned around. Now, it’s this U-shaped thing. If you drop a ball in the middle, the ball will swerve up and down and up and down, like a pendulum, until it lands in the middle, and it’s just there. Now he says, “You know, it’s felt like our relationship has gotten to the point where it has been this U-shaped thing. Even though the ball kind of swings back and forth a little, it’ll always end up at a very stable point.” That feels really good to me, because there was a while where we were not there, and it felt very volatile. Back then I was really scared, to the point where I was kind of hesitant to physically transition, because he’s such a big supporter in my life. I would really be devastated if I were to lose that. But, yeah, it’s been really good recently.

BEAU

That’s scary. It’s hard to navigate. Just another thing that we have to navigate. I feel like I just keep saying “Balance!” “Navigate!”

MARTY

Ugh. [Laughs] Another “ugh” from me.

BEAU

Were you two together before you realized you were trans?

MARTY

Yes and no. I met him on Hinge, and I had put in my profile that I was questioning my gender identity. I wrote something along the lines of “I am not cis. I still use she/her pronouns.” I was still more or less okay with that back then. 

He messaged me. He said, “so who do you feel like, a man or a woman?” I replied “Honestly, you know, I feel like a femme-presenting man.” I called myself a masculine-of-center femme back then. Such an oxymoron … but it fit me.

BEAU

It makes sense.

MARTY

It does, right? He said “Oh, well, I’m very interested in learning more.” He was from Russia. He had never been exposed to queer America at all. We kind of figured it out together. About six months into our relationship, I told him “I have always felt this way, but I am way more comfortable being out about it now, so I use he/him pronouns now, and I’m changing my name to Marty.” 

He was really cool with it. It was basically like, “oh, yeah, I get it. It’s a bit flip. We just switch it …” He’s a mathematician and used to thinking about bit flips. He just kind of … got it.

BEAU

It’s so interesting once you realize how your partner thinks, and how that’s different from how you think. It’s such a unique thing to realize. My partner and I, we’ve recently realized how we both can be talking about the same thing, but interpreting it completely differently, and we’re finally learning how to bridge those gaps and how to realize what the other person is actually trying to say, and where the miscommunication is. We’ve been together for almost six years, so it’s taken us a while to really get here.

MARTY

That’s awesome.

BEAU

There’s just … now that I understand myself so much more, I can understand our communication so much more, which is really underestimated by a lot of people. Just genuine communicating and listening and taking the time to respond to someone, versus just reacting right away.

MARTY

Definitely. You guys have been together for six years? Did you come out in the middle of your relationship?

BEAU

Yeah. In general, it’s been about a year since I realized I was trans, and we’ve been married since 2018.

MARTY

Oh, wow.

BEAU

We had been in this seemingly same-sex relationship for so long, and then I realized I wasn’t. I think she realized before I did, kind of. As I was questioning my gender and going back and forth, I think she made peace with me being trans before I knew how to say I was trans. So it was kind of unique in the fact that she really comforted me and knew that this is who I was.

MARTY

Oh, that’s really awesome. Did you guys have any issues with you transitioning?

BEAU

No, she’s been really, really supportive. I started testosterone in December, so it’s been about seven shots now, and she has done every single one of them for me.

MARTY

That’s the dream. I hate needles.

BEAU

So, yeah, that’s been really helpful. The next step that I’m looking into now is top surgery. She’s also very supportive with that.

MARTY

Congratulations.

BEAU

Yeah! That’s why I was so excited to hear how yours has been going. Do you want to talk more about that?

MARTY

Sure. What do you want to know?

BEAU

Let’s see. Where do I start? How did you … I know you already talked a little bit about researching and how you found your doctor and all that. I did read your post about it, too. But how did … there’s so many horror stories, and there’s so many, like … how did you know? How were you confident enough with your decision?

MARTY

I researched a bunch of doctors. I was still living in San Francisco at the time, and I found a few doctors in the city. I thought, “Okay, I could literally just walk to the surgery and come back by myself instead of flying all the way back to Florida and dealing with all this.” But I had read a book featuring Dr. Garramone, who is the person I went to, and all of these stories seemed really cool. A lot of trans guys I met on Reddit or on Facebook — on the Internet in general — just really loved him. They all sided really positive experiences with him. 

I actually spent a whole day trying to find negative feedback about this person. I couldn’t find anything other than “He doesn’t have a lot of bedside manner. He isn’t interested in knowing why I came here.” I thought, “Okay, well, he’s literally here to perform a procedure. It doesn’t really matter to me.” If that’s the most negative thing I can read about him online, then, you know, he seems to be really great.

What really sealed the deal for me was I actually had a friend who had gone to him. They had gotten their top surgery, and they’re nonbinary. They said, “I felt very comfortable being nonbinary going into top surgery with Dr. Garramone because, you know, there’s obviously a lot of gatekeeping in the medical transition world. 

I really was looking for no mistakes with the surgery, obviously, but also a smooth time with my pre-op appointments and stuff. I did not want to face any discrimination from him or his staff. I got exactly what I wanted. Everyone was so accepting and it was just so smooth. I was really glad that I’d spent so much time researching it.

BEAU

That’s incredible. The staff can make all the difference. I still attribute part of my fear of the dentist to the receptionist at the dentist I went to as a child, because I just remember her being so not welcoming and non-friendly and that just stuck.

MARTY

It totally makes you dread going to all doctor’s appointments. You have to deal with this person right off the bat …

BEAU

… And you have to schedule with them and cancel with them and all of that, too. So it’s just like …

MARTY

… All that fun stuff.

BEAU

It’s a hurdle. [Laughs] I know you talked about how you’ve had a little bit of struggle after surgery, which isn’t … I don’t say isn’t a common story told, but it’s also … everyone talks about all the good things that happen after, and they don’t talk about the real things. So I’d love to hear more.

MARTY

I feel very lucky that I had a very, very smooth time afterwards, physically. I was pretty mobile right after the procedure, and I actually felt like I could do pretty much everything that I could do before. Aside from lifting heavy things. My chest really just was not having that. I felt like I was straining at my stitches every time I reached up, which … don’t do that. Don’t be like me. I know I’m an influencer, but don’t let yourself be influenced by that. 

[Laughs] Emotionally speaking, though … after surgery, I came back and I felt really good. I woke up the next day and I felt very terrible. I had this heightened sensitivity almost. I think a part of it was that I had repressed my emotions a lot because I was quote, unquote “too girly to cry.” After I got top surgery, I really just felt like a man on the inside, and I thought, “Well, obviously my emotions don’t define me, so I can start expressing whatever the fuck I want.” The floodgates opened, in a way. I became so much more sensitive to the things around me.

At the time, I was in Miami with my partner. He was going through his own thing, realizing what this meant for our relationship. He had been ambivalent about the top surgery. He said “I support you and all, but it’ll be hard for me to deal with, at least at first. You’ll have to give me time.” So he was a bit … I don’t want to say “cold”, but I almost felt like … instead of being my partner, he was a very, very specifically good caretaker. He would empty my drains, record all the stuff, make sure that I had dinner, make sure that I was getting enough air. But he was avoiding the emotional aspect of it. I wanted someone to talk about my feelings, too. I wanted someone to lie there with and he wasn’t there for those things. Because I was so sensitive to everything, I felt really … almost rejected or abandoned in a way. That definitely was not great for my mental health.

I was crying a lot. I was in bed sobbing to myself and feeling … not like I regretted the surgery, but that the whole experience was a dark tunnel that I had to go through. I did a bunch of research on post-surgical depression. These sources said that the first three weeks would be pretty bad. “You might feel a lot of regret; you’ll feel very sensitive.” Then you’ll feel really good after. I thought, “Okay, I believe in science. Other people have gone through this before. I will also get through this. But until then, it’s going to really suck.” 

It really, really sucked. And then I went through it.

BEAU

That’s awesome, though, that you came out the other side.

MARTY

Oh, yeah. I’ve been very glad. Actually, I’m very glad I had this experience, because it’s taught me to not take any of the stuff for granted, especially my relationships.

BEAU

Is there anything that you wish you knew before you went in that you know now?

MARTY

I’m really glad that I read up online on all the stuff that I would need to know. Because I did a lot of research, I wasn’t necessarily surprised. But I wish I knew that — and this is something that was also online that I just somehow missed — is that if you choose to have drains on the side of your body, you will have holes in your body until they close up. When I got my drains removed for the first time, and the doctor just replaced everything I had with a bandage, I took off the bandage and I freaked the fuck out, seeing these bloody holes on the sides of my body. There was nothing but a Band-Aid over them. I hate blood. I hate gore. Just seeing that almost made me pass out. I really wish that I had known that beforehand.

BEAU

[Laughing] But it seems like it would have warned you about.

MARTY

That’s the thing: I really wish they’d warned me of that, actually. Another thing is that if you take the surgical tape off your chest a little too early, everything will stick to it. So you’ll have this leftover adhesive stuff. I think, looking at my chest, there’s still a little bit left on there. And if you wear a shirt or anything, it will stick to your chest if you take them off too early. So don’t do that.

BEAU

Wow, that’s so funny. I never really thought of either of those two things before, so I’m really glad that you brought both of them up.

MARTY

There’s one more. Okay, one last one.

BEAU

I’m for it.

MARTY

If you travel for top surgery, and you’re flying, and you plan to fly back, and the doctor gives you a bag of surgical supplies, like extra leg scissors, or … there’s a bottle of special so called Hibiclens that’s supposed to be good for scarring and stuff … TSA will not let you take that on the plane. They will take it out of your bag and throw it away in front of you. TSA people are assholes. even if you explain to them that you really, really need it, they’re not going to fly with that shit. So be prepared for that. Have extra scissors. I came straight to New Orleans after that. I had to disinfect these kitchen scissors to cut my gauze now because I don’t have my scissors anymore.

BEAU

Right. I can’t imagine traveling right after. How long did it take you to stop feeling sore?

MARTY

I was taking a lot of pain medication, so if I had remembered to take them all the time, I would not have been sore at all. But it took me … I would say it took me at least three weeks before I was comfortable lifting things, period, again, even my backpack with my laptop in it. Take your pain medication. Also, one thing I didn’t realize was how emasculated I would feel to have my partner carry my bags for me and stuff, especially since I had all those weird “I-am-a-man-so-I-need-to-be-physically-strong” things, and all of a sudden I came out of top surgery actually feeling very masculine, but I was like, “Can you please get that thing off the shelf for me?” [Laughs]

BEAU

Do you think your perspective on masculinity has changed since you had top surgery?

MARTY

I think that I actually have become way more comfortable with both my masculinity and my femininity. It’s less so that my perspective on it has changed. It’s more like I don’t have to prove myself so much anymore. So all those things I was trying to do just to prove to myself that I was a man is now just more like, “Oh, well, of course you’re a man. Nothing that you do will change that fact. So you’re free to be whoever you are.”

BEAU

That’s very powerful. I think it’s also a struggle that any man can have, cis or trans. Going back to toxic masculinity, it’s just something that I wish more people could openly talk about and discuss.

MARTY

Actually, I see in a lot of my my cis male friends now … just, the way they tried to prove to themselves that they’re a “manly man” or “manly men” or whatever. These toxic behaviors are so much easier for me to see in others now because I was doing the same exact things, but I was kind of refusing to see it in myself, period, just because I had all this baggage. Now that it’s cleared up, I’m thinking, “You’re totally just overcompensating now.” [Laughs] It’s very clear to me.

BEAU

It’s so interesting to realize those biases within yourself. I’m still finding that balance.

MARTY

I think that also, especially for trans guys, the whole world seems to be on a hellbent mission to tell you that you’re not masculine enough, you’re not man enough. Oftentimes these voices aren’t even from within yourself. They’re from the random guy across the street who insists that you’re a little lady, or you’re your mom who tells you that you’re still her little girl.

You feel such an urge to prove to all these people, and to yourself, that you are a man. But it can so easily become internalized, super toxic masculinity that’s worse than the worst things that “manly men” put on themselves.

BEAU

One hundred percent. I think that’s so true. It’s funny, because I really realized I was trans once all the quarantine for COVID started. I was at home all the time, just my partner and I and our zoo full of animals. [Laughs]

Once we were here, I realized that the only person really feeding all of that negativity about myself is me. I don’t really talk to my family that much anymore. That’s where a lot of it had been coming from. 

So, just now being able to realize that all of that was internal self-hatred and all that internal self talk … and then, working on that through therapy and everything else is how I realized, like, “Oh, wow, this is why I’m so upset with myself.” And it just …

MARTY

Yeah!

BEAU

That’s wild.

MARTY

Just so liberating, though, right?

BEAU

It is, yeah. It’s been quite a fun process.

MARTY

Painful but fun.

BEAU

[Laughs] Painful. I know that you say that you are femme-presenting, or you have in the past. Do you think that that’s going to change, now that you’re changing your style a little bit?

MARTY

I’m actually planning on doing an experiment when COVID is over, where I will present very masculine sometimes and very feminine other times, and go to the same places, and just see how I feel about it. From there, I’ll see what I’ll be doing just on a more global scale. 

On a day-to-day basis, I do a lot of photoshoots and I do them all in very high femme clothing. But in my actual day to day life, I’m like a grubby kid walking on the street. Right now I’m wearing these men’s sweatpants and men’s sweatshirt.

The only “femme” thing about me on a day-to-day level is just my long hair. I don’t wear makeup. I don’t wear any so-called “girly things.” I don’t wear nail polish. All of that is just for photos. So I could also see, in the future, in my art, I will be very, very femme-presenting. Then, in my life, I will be masc-presenting.

BEAU

I love that you refer to all these things as experiments. That is exactly what they are, but it’s also such a unique perspective to have.

MARTY

Gender is quite the performance.

BEAU

It’s so interesting, though, to separate it and have it as just “This is art, and this is me.” That’s got to feel liberating.

MARTY

The part of femininity that really attracts me is just this … I don’t want to say that it’s a “performance” or that it’s the “trappings of femininity” or whatever, but it’s this high femme aesthetic I just love so much, because it’s almost irreverent. 

It’s so impractical, in a way. It’s so uncomfortable to wear these clothes, but it’s so beautiful to look at. And there’s something very … I don’t know. Women are told — [Sighs] taught to minimize themselves. High femme is exactly the opposite of that. It’s saying “I’m loud, I’m here. You will pay attention to me and I will look beautiful and graceful.” 

To have that aesthetic without any of the external world imposing meanings on it is what I love about this high-femme art. When I’m in my own studio, and I’m just taking photos of myself, and there’s no one around to stare at me or make comments or anything, that’s when this is the most empowering way to express this aesthetic.

BEAU

That’s awesome. It’s mind blowing, but also just very, like, duh. [Laughs]

MARTY

[Laughs] That is the trans experience, though. It’s trans-cendental. But also, it is what it is. You know, it was right under my nose all along.

BEAU

Quite literally.

MARTY

Actually though. So, in the trans community … back to that trans community. There is a lot of, you know … it almost seems as though being a Voice in the Trans Community these days comes along with a lot of other social justice obligations

When I was going on social media for the first time, I thought that I had to express my opinions in a certain way, that I had to make these big, bold statements that were sweeping and encapsulated the entire trans experience, and I had to scold my followers for not knowing the right terms to talk about things with and stuff like that. 

Do you also feel that kind of pressure when you’re making your podcast, when you’re inviting people on stuff like that?

BEAU

I feel it when I look back on things. When I originally started the podcast, it was very much — I mean, it’s still very much is — just me wanting to learn and grow. I figured that if I wanted to do this, I was sure there were other people that did. So I wanted to share what I was learning. One of the things that’s been on my forever-long To-Do list has been going back and making transcripts of all the episodes.

I do have the fear of people starting to listen to it from the beginning. Maybe I said things wrong, or maybe my opinion on things now has changed from the beginning. I do worry about that a lot.

MARTY

I feel that. I just went back and deleted my first essay series on gender recently. It wasn’t even that I was writing about it wrong, but just my opinions have changed so much. I want to re-release it with an updated note saying “This is who I am now.” I think having the time stamps on that stuff is really helpful because you can kind of see your own evolution throughout the whole process.

BEAU

Definitely. It’s just so interesting, too. Like you said, it’s something that keeps growing and you just keep learning and changing and evolving. Even a year from right now, how different things will be …

MARTY

One more question: how has your experience with therapy been?

BEAU

Ugh.

MARTY

Ugh. [Laughs]

BEAU

[Laughs] So I’ve struggled with therapy myself, because for so many years I wasn’t willing to put in the work I needed to put in. I would go and show up, but I wouldn’t be willing to be honest or tell a full story. I would just tell what I would tell my mom: the abbreviated version. I was so afraid of judgment. As I’ve gotten older and wiser and a little more in tune with myself, I … I just left my therapist is why I’m starting with this reason, because I really liked her. 

I thought that she was very helpful for me, for a lot of things. But when it came to gender, I just think that she … gender was just a little past what she could understand or what she could help me grow on. I was more afraid of being judged, or being … it didn’t feel like a comfortable place to talk about it. 

I ended up leaving my therapist, and I’m still trying to find a new one, because my current struggle has been every time I find one that I think will be a really great fit, it’s not like an insurance fit. So, that’s been …

MARTY

That is such a battle. I recently dropped down to less sessions because financially it was a lot. Also I’ve grown a lot through therapy and I’m like, “Okay, I could go on my own now.”

BEAU

Yeah.

MARTY

Have you ever had bad gender experiences with therapists?

BEAU

I had a terrible experience with a psychiatrist. So I have anxiety, depression, and PTSD. I take anti-anxiety meds. When we first moved out to Washington, I wanted to find a new doctor and kind of re-evaluate everything and start fresh. The first psychiatrist I went to here to kind of manage all of that shamed me for being in a same-sex relationship, told me that they didn’t … it was like back when I was still very preliminarily questioning my gender. 

I made some remark, like “I don’t think I’m female, but this has been my experience.” Her response was very immediately “No. This is inappropriate. I’m going to put you on antipsychotics. We need to talk about this —”

MARTY

What the fuck?

BEAU

— and the psychiatrist just started diagnosing me with all these different things. I’m like, “Um, okay, nope. This is not right.” So that was terrible. [Laughs] Since then, I haven’t had any other bad experiences. How about you?

MARTY

Yikes, I’m sorry that you had to go through that. That sounds really rough. I have never been diagnosed with anything specifically, but when I was still in college, I had a therapist who was still … I guess she was a student. It was through my school. These therapists were masters students or something going through a program. They were under supervision of actual psychologists and they were just testing out their skills, I guess. 

The therapist I was assigned was woefully unprepared, I think, to deal with anything mildly gender questioning. This was before I had started really questioning anything. I was very cis, very femme. I was just kind of talking about how I felt the need to drink a lot because it was very macho. I said, “All my friends are cis guys and I want to lift more than them” and all of this. And she said, very clearly, “I think these behaviors are unhealthy for you because your female body is not prepared to handle them.”

BEAU

Oh, my God.

MARTY

That was the first time I had felt very … I’ve always felt a little bit of discomfort around the words “female,” “woman,” stuff like that when applied to myself. But that was the first time I felt very dysphoric openly. 

I thought, “Wow, this is horrible.” She would go on to say, “Make sure you’re not drinking more than X amount of things per week because your body can’t handle it.” Then she would say, “When you disagree with me, I see a very scared little girl trying to rebel against whatever.” Her behavior did turn me off therapy for a little bit. Fortunately, my therapist now is specifically a gender therapist. He’s also … I think he’s cis. He’s a man. [Laughs] I can talk about gender issues very openly because that was the primary reason I started therapy in the first place.

BEAU

That’s a good point. I also think that when we need the therapists or the professionals who specifically know so much about it is before we realize we need it. So there needs to be more of a proficiency for all health care providers and therapists.

MARTY

Yeah. [Laughs]

BEAU

[Laughs]  That’s very lacking.

MARTY

Even now, just going to the doctor, you know, going to the eye doctor or whatever, it’s also a battle. You have to be prepared to face randomly gendered things in these scenarios, too. My old eye doctor, whom I’ve been going to for years, is a friend of my mother’s. Obviously, that comes with a lot of thorny things to navigate through. 

I have like these eye disorders, stuff that requires special care. He is the only person I know who specializes in these disorders. But I have not made an appointment for years because I do not want to deal with that shit. People talk about gender like this is just something that affects one part of life, but it’s not. It affects absolutely everything. Sometimes it’s good, and sometimes it really fucking sucks.

BEAU

I think that’s just a huge disconnect with people who are cisgender. They just don’t understand how much of your life your gender encompasses that’s not said, or not displayed from your nonverbal communication, from how you feel when you walk into the doctor’s office, to when you’re separated to do things in school or in gym or in anything. There’s so much more to it that people don’t realize if they can take it for granted.

MARTY

Man. I don’t actually want to be cis, though sometimes I wish I were just so I could not question these things, because I’ve been questioning them all my life, as I’m sure you also have.

BEAU

Yeah.

MARTY

People are just so weirded out if you question gender-related things, even if you raise these questions casually.

BEAU

It’s just so unknown, or so separated from what some people know that they just are so closed to it. It’s like the people that automatically take something, anything having to do with gender, sex, and automatically tie it to the act of having sex or to some sexual something. There’s so much more to it than just this one thing.

MARTY

Exactly.

BEAU

Thank you so much for talking with me. This is awesome and so much fun, and I hope we can continue talking.

MARTY

For sure. Thank you so much for having me.

BEAU

Absolutely. ✦

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll To Top