Detroit, Michigan was the punchline to many jokes over the years. From a thriving city coated in glitz and glamour during the Motown era to it’s grey, burned down Urban Flight landscape it is today – the music reflects the condition of the city. It was angry in the late sixties and early seventies with MC5 and The Stooges (some say the Godfathers of Punk, I tend to agree). Now it’s pissed off and fighting to identify itself – not unlike the lead singer of Glitter Trash, Jenna Talia. Backed by Scott “Scoff” Koskinen on guitar, Cynthia “SinDerElla” Herrmann on bass and James “Dirtbag” Stevenson on drums, these long time Detroit musicians kick out the jams. Laugh all you want at the crappy late night digs on Detroit, but Glitter Trash ain’t no joke.
How did you end up in Detroit?
My lovely mother squirted me out on Detroit’s mean streets and I loved it so much I stayed for most of my life. It’s a wonderfully dysfunctional and bizarre place to live!
Growing up knowing you’re a girl in a boy’s body seems to go two ways… Either you are accepted by loved ones or shunned. How was it for you?
The brain is a very powerful thing. My brain makes daily attempts to persuade me that I am a female, but at the same time it also confirms physically and genetically I am male when see myself in a mirror or I hit the bathroom. Over time, I accepted these twisted physical and mental aspects of my being knowing I cannot change myself genetically. At best in my opinion, I can become a modified male by using plastic surgery, hormones or voice alteration techniques in an attempt to pass in society as a female, however, I don’t buy into this concept of trying to fool people regarding my birth sex. I like the person I have evolved into so why pretend I am anything other than what I truly am and, personally, I would prefer a more modern term like “hybrid” or “modified male” instead of a transsexual, which today seems so antiquated since only 60 years or so back under the same label we were deemed “insane” by the medical profession. My outward appearance is very athletic and a cross between male and female (I am 6 foot tall, athletic, weigh 200 pounds), so it confuses most people, especially family and friends who knew me before I experienced physical changes. To answer your question I will simply state this: “In my decision to move forward with HRT and breast augmentation, I lost everyone I grew up with, both friends and family.” But on the flip side of that statement, in my truth, I found the love of my life, my girlfriend, and made friends all over the world with my band Glitter Trash. For transgender people it’s a “Catch 22” and loss is an unfortunate part of the complex equation for most. In life, nothing is promised nor guaranteed. in the end, you can submerge yourself in misery hiding your truth in darkness or you can step out from the shadows and soak in the sunlight. Being transgender, there is no time limit to finding your happiness, this is not a race and we all must deal with the roadblocks put before us in our own way, in our own time.
Was there ever a time when you weren’t fearless about who you are?
As of this article in the year of 2012, most of the world still sees transgender people as freaks and weirdos thanks to misrepresentation and misunderstanding portrayed in television, the porn industry and religion. If you have low self esteem and low self confidence as a transgender person (very common in the transgender community), stepping into that social magnifying glass and burning hot spotlight, for most, is much too harsh, too brutal. The mental, physical and emotional toll of being laughed at, pointed at, ridiculed, ignored, beaten up or living in poverty is not something most people want to happen to them. Hell yes, I too was afraid. Growing up a star athlete in multiple sports in a neighborhood filled with kids and loaded down with middle class America’s expectations of how you are supposed to live your life, the last thing I ever wanted was anyone to find out about my little secret. It took a hell of a long time to sort out my issues. Since I am an easily identifiable transgender person, I am lucky enough to now come to a place in my life where I am strong enough to stand up for myself and other transgender people and let society see we are just regular people like them in everyday life, whether I am out to see a show with my girlfriend, go to the corner store for a six pack, hit a summer festival or cut my lawn. Fear is a haunting bitch for transgender people…even today I still have anxiety about being in public at times.
When did you start taking hormones and what helped you decide to do it?
I started taking hormones in 2006. My decision to do so was a gradual progression from being closeted, to GLBT social and then openly public. Once I went public is when I felt OK to take them. Believe it or not, I read the book “The Christine Jorgensen Story” when I was 9 or 10 years old. My father had the paperback in his collection and I was very intrigued on Christine’s story, especially her hormone usage. I knew from a young age, where there is a will, there is a way.
How do you feel about teens and preteens getting Hormone Replacement Therapy?
I cannot speak for other individuals and feel I would be hypocritical in making statements on kids I do not know. Every transgender person’s situation is unique and must be handled as such by their doctors, therapists and families. Communities need to raise awareness about transgender people at a young age to stop fear and bullying. I am happy we have become advanced enough to diagnose it and react to it at a younger age, however, America is still in the dark ages when it comes to transgender people in comparison to Europe or the UK, socially speaking. Growing up, I had zero support about the complex issue I was dealing with as a child and had to handle it quietly by myself. There was a lot of guilt and shame associated with it, but that was also a different time. As I mentioned that we each have our own unique situations, even though I was conflicted since 5 years old, I would never trade all the kick ass grade school and high school memories if I could jump in a time machine, go back in time and somehow transition…those were some of the best times of my life, confusion and all and it helped make me who I am today!
Read all of this interview in Transformation 80.
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