I Interviewed my Closest Friend who Happens to Be Trans
CAMBIO: What are some things you wish people knew about you?
Sammy: This isn't exactly the first thing I tell people. I like to get to know people before I let them in on this part of my life. I'm a very private person. I do wish people were more educated about LGBT issues in general especially here in the South. I mean, there is some transgender visibility in celebrities like Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner, but those are trans women, not men like myself.
Well, what about Chaz Bono?
He's never really been much of a celebrity. I think he was only on Dancing With the Stars, and that's it. Isn't he, like, Cher and Bono's kid?
Cher and Sonny's, but I get your point. Do you wish there was more coverage of trans people outside of when they die?
Well yeah, there aren't that many trans celebrities. Hell, there aren't even very many gay celebrities. Obviously, I'll take what I can get in the mainstream media. There aren't very many trans people that want to do this; you know, being an actor or in the limelight. There are some music artists, but they aren't mainstream [even] though they have a decent following on Instagram and Tumblr.
Does it not bother you that there is so little representation for trans men in the mainstream media?
I don't pay attention, so it really doesn't bother me personally. Someone out there is getting their start and maybe I'll have some sort of representation. Of course, there are some trans people that prefer to stay stealth, so there could be more trans celebrities that we don't know about, you know. [Stealth is when a transgender person passes for cisgender and doesn't tell anyone that they are trans.]
How does it feel to not be able to be honest with your parents?
When I first told my mom about me being trans - I don't want to say that she wasn't accepting - she needed time to process everything. She wasn't concerned with the trans thing, so much as my health and safety.
What do you mean?
Well, the area where I've lived isn't exactly LGBT friendly. When I would walk down the street holding the hand of my first girlfriends, we would get dirty looks. That was just from us being gay, not even that I'm trans. The people around here are close-minded, and anything that's not "normal" is frowned upon. My mom didn't want me to be the victim of a hate crime. I understand what she meant in hindsight, but you can't hide who you are forever. It won't get better that way. As far as my health is concerned, my mom was concerned with the transition process and what it entails, what's involved. For the most part, my mom just wanted to know what it was. She's pretty okay with it now. We've talked about transitioning after I come out to my dad. When he's not around, she's comfortable asking questions like, "What's going to happen to you?" and "What's going to change?"
Are you scared to come out to your dad, or are you waiting for the right time?
A little bit of both because it makes me nervous more than scared. I know he wouldn't kick me out or anything, but I think he might say that that's something that isn't allowed to happen while I live in his house. I just don't know how he'll react. Knowing him, he'll take it in, process it and want to talk about it. You know how parents are when they try to give you advice. I'm more nervous than scared because, I don't know, he may not be very accepting. But he doesn't really subscribe to traditional gender roles; I've been under cars and helped fix plumbing as well as running telephone wires. My dad's never said I can't do something because I'm a girl. When he has to teach me how to do something, he talks to me the same way he talks to my brother.
I'm going to end this here: Is there anything in general that you want people to know when talking to you (or any transgender person)?
If you do encounter a trans person, remember that they are human. Treat them with respect regardless of what's between their legs. Don't ask personal questions. Like, if it's not something you would ask a new acquaintance, don't ask. Once you get to know them, and you know, they're okay with certain questions, ask them but be respectful about it. If it's something that you feel you absolutely have to know, Google it. Never ask someone about their genitalia or sex life. It's none of your business unless you're having sex with someone. If you are having sex with a trans person, ask what they're comfortable with and respect them. That doesn't matter if you're gay, straight, trans, whatever, communication is key.